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Collaborative Seminar Series presents “Rethinking Scientific Presentations: The Assertion-Evidence Structure”

October 17, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

Holding a master of science in electrical engineering and a master of fine arts in writing, Michael Alley is a teaching professor of engineering communication at Penn State.  He is the author of The Craft of Scientific Presentations (Springer, 2013), which has been translated to Japanese and Chinese, and The Craft of Scientific Writing (Springer, 2018). Over the past decade, he has taught presentations and writing to engineers and scientists on four continents. Sites include Google, Harvard Medical School, MIT, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Texas Instruments, and the University of Illinois. Alley’s website on presentations ( is a top Google listing for engineering presentations and his website on writing ( is a top Google listing for engineering writing.

From an audience’s perspective, many scientific presentations suffer because the talks are unfocused. This lack of focus leads to much noise, which reduces the understanding by the audience. Much of the problem arises from speakers following PowerPoint’s defaults and building their talks on phrase headlines supported by bulleted lists. This seminar presents the assertion-evidence approach ( to designing scientific presentations. In this approach, the speaker builds the talk on key messages supported by visual evidence. Our research has found that assertion-evidence talks are more focused and much better understood by audiences. In addition, our speakers (even those initially nervous about making presentations) report that using the assertion-evidence approach has given them more confidence. Before this seminar, participants are encouraged to download a template from and create a couple of slides for their next research presentation. Participants are also encouraged to view  model research presentations by graduate students.


October 17, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
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