As everyone knows — and has experienced — there are good talks and bad talks. The good ones often leave the audience with a sense of what the speaker studies, what's new in his lab, and why the field is important. Bad talks can leave the audience confused or trying to poke their eyes out with a conference pen. As disheartening as giving a bad talk can be, it is also a learning opportunity. "Everybody gives bad talks and, although there are exceptions, generally speaking, it tends to be better than you thought it was," says Boston University's James Galagan.