all three of us here at the blog have strong opinions on what makes a good set of slides for a scientific talk. generally, they align (conciseness, high information-to-ink ratio, tell a story rather than read the slides, well labeled axes...), but sometimes our opinions clash and we find ourselves in a shouting match over the usefulness of outline slides. (yes, this happened. at drink.)
lately, i've come to develop similar strong opinions on bars' cocktail menus, which are, after all, the bartenders' method of presentation. in addition, as i prepare for my own big cocktail party, i'm thinking about what my menu should look like.
here, then, is a taxonomy of both presentation styles:
we've all (switching to scientist persona for a bit) suffered through a speaker who relied on screenshots of whole paragraphs from colleagues' (or their own!) papers instead of digesting the content into bulleted form. enraging.
the cocktail menu equivalents are the tomes that you can find, say, at new york's pdt. each cocktail gets half a page of rambling attention - some history, some flavor notes, some discussion of seasonality. distill it for me, already!
some presenters like to take the cutesy route to talks. they'll have quotes from einstein or barely related stock photos (usually of einstein as well). they might have good content, but you wouldn't know that if they were on mute.
i think of eastern standard's menu. original drink names (brock's buck) with inside-joke-sounding description (alliterative shout out). what the hell is in it?!
similar to the screenshotter, the table-user will lift a whole table of data into the presentation (including the unnecessary columns) and point out the important bits with a dim laster pointer.
i think beer lists are more guilty of this - especially a place like sunset tap which has about a million beers on tap and prints them all in small font, along with brewery location and abv.
maybe the old b-side menu gets close for cocktails:
ah the elusive -good- use of bullet points. the basic information and hints of the deeper significance, without becoming a long sentence. there's enough there to understand it in itself, but the speaker fleshes out each point more fully.
craigie on main comes close to this style - the important bare ingredients or flavors, with a little color commentary. and tom is always willing to supply more information.
this speaker is a baller. they are probably old and well respected in several fields, partially for their skill in delivering arresting, note-free, slide-free presentations.
the bartenders at drink and milk & honey are ballers. there is no standing cocktail menu; only what they can hold in their mind. without the crutch of a menu, prolonged interaction between the bartender and customer leads to a better understanding for both.