Suspense is a powerful tool. In story-telling, not knowing what is going to happen or how the story is going to end can grab attention and sustain interest. In giving a research presentation, one is often encouraged to “tell a story”. One could certainly make use of suspense to do so.

We are interested in how best to predict X. Previous research has indicated that P Q and R could be crucial here. [much later] It turned out that… [pause for drama]… variable K was surprisingly the strongest predictor of X!

However, most presentations take a more up-front approach.

Welcome to my presentation entitled “How K can be used to predict X”…

The latter approach follows the advice that I have often received, which can be summarised by the maxim:

Tell them what you are going to tell them, then tell them, then tell them what you have told them.

So, is it a bad idea to use suspense with the intention of making the “story” of your presentation more engaging?

[This question was inspired by an answer given elsewhere on Academia.SE.]

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