Many people who know me professionally know that I have quite a few, um, obsessions which aren't exactly related to physics. One is that I'm a tireless Apple booster, having gone all-Mac all-the-time in the last year and evangelizing where possible. Another is that I'm a serious nut-case perfectionist about the talks I give at meetings and conferences. Although I'm all too aware that it's not necessary to get everything right both in terms of contents and visuals, I've long felt that it never hurts. (I have a clear memory of reading an article about...well...Eddie Van Halen when I was a teenager. I didn't even like Van Halen that much (that has grown with time), but he explained why they rose to rapid fame in the late-70's: they treated every gig, even in tiny bars, as if they were in Madison Square Garden.)
And when it comes to getting presentations (especially the visuals) right, it's hard to beat the instincts of Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple (especially, as manifest in Keynote, Apple's homegrown presentation software). And now, you too can know the secrets of Steve Jobs, at least as divined Carmine Gallo in BusinessWeek. But here's the thing: while I am not interested in turning scientists into Powerpoint-wielding corporate drones, it surprises me how often scientists ignore common-sense when preparing and delivering talks. I know I'd enjoy conferences so much more if people could just be a bit more like Steve.