Many thanks to William Sjostrom for posting the link to a short article on how to craft a successful paper presentation. I think it hits the nail squarely on the head:
Any effective talk must do three things: communicate your arguments and ideas, persuade your audience they are true, and be interesting and entertaining. In our obsession with persuasive argumentation, academics sometimes forget about the third item on the list. Some people feel it follows automatically from the first two (it doesn’t). Some even scoff at the goal itself. Perversely, we seem to have come to believe that if a talk is entertaining, it’s probably not very deep.
These attitudes are seriously mistaken. It is impossible to communicate and persuade effectively without entertaining as well. Keeping your audience interested and involved – entertaining them is essential because in order to communicate your work and its value, you need their full attention.
This paper is full of useful advice for those of us who make a living trying to persuade people of novel ideas.