Verbal Sticks and Rhetorical Stones: Improving Conference Presentations in Political Science

David T Smitha1 and Rob Salmonda2

a1 University of Sydney

a2 University of Michigan


We provide advice to presenters at political science conferences. Our advice is based on the idea that the goal of a professional presentation is to provide an audience with information it can understand, discuss, and remember. We argue that current presentational norms in our discipline are counterproductive, and we encourage presenters to make their presentations more constrained, less technical, and more connected to the political world outside of political science.

David T Smith is a lecturer in American politics and foreign policy at the United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney and also lectures in the department of government and international relations. His research interests are American and comparative political development and religion and politics. He can be reached at

Rob Salmond is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Michigan and a faculty associate at the Center for Political Studies. His research interests are comparative political behavior and comparative democratic institutions. He can be reached at


  We would like to thank Skip Lupia, the PS editorial staff, and anonymous reviewers for very helpful suggestions and comments.