As I was scanning through the ToC alert for last week's edition of Nature, I saw a correspondence entitled "A communication wipeout by gabbling presenters", in which Dongwook Ko of Charles Darwin University in Australia writes:
I have noticed a trend among speakers at scientific conferences to speed up their oral presentations so that they can compress as much information as possible into their allocated time slots.Talking so fast can create a problem for those in the audience whose native language is not the one being used by the speaker — almost invariably English on today's stage.
I would say that 'talking so fast' actually makes if difficult for many in the audience, even if they are native English speakers. At least, it does for me. I am not an android. I cannot process a gig of data in 5 µs. And I cannot follow you--or the story--if you're blowing through four slides a minute.
Put another way:
More data ≠ better talk
The best speakers present appropriate background and clear, concise data in a well-organized manner. They also know how to keep to time, for the most part, such that they don't have to choose between flying through 10 slides in the last 4 minutes or running 15 minutes over time. Neither is a good option because you're going to lose some folks either way. Speaking clearly and at nice, consistent pace doesn't guarantee a good talk, but at least it gives your data and your story a chance to prove its worth.