Some suggested readings (to make you a better writer):
about how to write a technical paper. Many ideas apply to writing
proposals as well.
Read this paper
about how to write sentences, paragraphs, etc.
And, of course, read Strunk and
White. Many times.
Some advices on how to give a good presentation:
Some online advices from others:
- Be very selective about the talk contents. It's almost
always the case that you have more stuff than your audience can
understand within a short amount of time. You should thus be very
selective about what to include in your talk. What is the important
thing about your proposal? What is neat, unusual, interesting to a
listener? Figure it out, and say it in the talk, more than once.
Do not try to include everything in your talk.
- Repeat the key points. Don't expect your listener to always
follow your talk. It's a good idea to repeat and highlight the key
points several times, for example, once at the beginning, once when
you actually present them, and once at the end. Make sure your
listener won't miss the most important stuff of your talk.
- Use an outline. A good way to keep your audience with you is
to use an outline slide to describe the structure of your talk. I
typically present an outline slide after the introduction of a talk.
Then, as I go from one section to another, I may show the outline slide
again, to let the audience know where we are.
- Get the timing right. Each content slide typically takes 1-3
minutes. Thus, for a 10 minutes talk, do not have more than 6-7 slides
of real content! Note the title slide and outline slides do not count
in this total because they take little time to present.
- Use visual aids, but do not abuse them. Pictures, animations
are sometimes very handy at explaining complex ideas. However, use them
only on the most important stuff; otherwise, they'll distract your
- Above all else, practice, practice, practice. Practicing is
the real key to give a good talk. I find it much more useful to
practice aloud than to murmur to myself. If you can, try to give the
talk in front of other people. Practicing is certainly the only way to
get timing right.
paper about things to avoid when giving a talk
about how to give a good conference talk. Many ideas apply to the
mini-talk you'll give.
about how to read a research paper. The take-home message is that until
you can answer a bunch of questions, you are not done reading a
paper. William lists a number of important questions. I would add two: 1)
What are the re-usable principles/tricks/algorithms presented in this
paper? 2) What is the (authors') insight that drives the research? A
system research paper often has a bunch of novel tricks. I believe the
more such things you have in your toolbox, the more likely you can come up
with an elegant/novel system design.