On Feb 4, 2013, at 11:25 AM, Bill Dueber wrote:
[trimmed (and agreed with all of that)]
> As Jonathan said: this is a great, great audience. We're all forgiving,
> we're all interested, we're all eager to lean new things and figure out how
> to apply them to our own situations. We love to hear about your successes.
> We *love* to hear about failures that include a way for us to avoid them,
> and you're going to be well-received no matter what because a bunch of
> people voted to hear you!
I'd actually be interested in people's complaints about bad presentations;
I've been keeping notes for years, with the intention of making a
presentation on giving better presentations. (but it's much harder than
it sounds, as I plan on making all of the mistakes during the presentation)
> On Mon, Feb 4, 2013 at 10:47 AM, Jonathan Rochkind <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>> We are all very excited about the conference next week, to speak to our
>> peers and to hear what our peers have to say!
>> I would like to suggest that those presenting be considerate to your
>> audience, and actually prepare your talk in advance!
>> Just practice it once in advance (even the night before, as a last
>> resort!), and it'll go great!
I did one of those 'Ignite' talks this year; because it's auto-
advancing slides, I went over it multiple times. My recommendation
is that you try to get various co-workers as guinea pigs. I even
subjected one of my neighbors to it, even though he wasn't necessarily
part of the intended audience.
They gave me a lot of feed back -- asking for clarification on bits,
we realized I could trim down a couple of slides, giving me more
slides to expand other bits. I still screwed up the presentation,
but it would have been much worse if I hadn't practiced.
My local ASIS&T chapter used to run 'preview' events before the
annual meeting, where the local folks presenting at annual were
invited to give their talks. If nothing else, it forced you to
have it done a couple of weeks early, but more importantly, it
gave me a chance to have a similar audience to what would be
at the main meeting ... one of my talks bombed hard; it was on
standards & protocols for scientific data, and I hadn't considered
just how bad a talk that's 50% acronyms would go over. I was
able to change how I presented the material so it wasn't quite
so painful the second time around.
There's only been once when practicing in advanced made for a worse
presentation ... and that's because when I finished, PowerPoint asked
me if I wanted to save the timings ... what ever you do, do *not*
tell it yes. Because then it'll auto-advance your slides, so when
you skip over one slide during the practice, it'll not let you
have it up during the real talk.
(There's a setting to turn off use of timings ... and the audience
laughed when I kept scolding the computer, but it still felt
horrible when I was up there)
And it's important that you *must* practice in front of other
people. How fast you think it's going to take you, or how fast
it takes you talking to yourself is nothing like talking in
front of other people.
So, all of that being said, some of the things I've made a note
of over the years. (it's incomplete, as I've still take notes
by hand, and there are more items on the back pages of the
various memo books I've had over the years)
* Get there before the session, and test your presentation on the
same hardware as it's going to be presented from. This is
especially important if you're a Mac user, and presenting from
a PC, or visa-versa. Look for odd fonts, images that didn't
load, videos, abnormal gamma, bad font sizes (may result in
missing test), missing characters, incorrect justification, etc.
* If you're going to be presenting from your own machine, still
test it out, to make sure that you have all of the necessary
adaptors, that you know what needs to be done to switch the
monitor, that the machine detects the projector at a reasonable
size and the gamma's adjusted correctly. (and have it loaded
in advance; you're wasting enough time switching machines).
And start switching machines while the last presenter's doing
Q&A ... and if you lose 5 min because of switching, prepare
to cut your talk short, force the following presenters to lose
* Have a backup plan, with the presentation stashed on a website
that you've memorized the URL to, *and* on a USB stick.
(website is safer vs. virus transfer, only use the USB stick
if there's no internet) And put the file at the top level of
the USB stick, not buried 12 folders deep.
* If they have those clip on microphones, put it on your label
on the same side as the screen is to you. (so whenever you
turn to look at the screen, it still picks up your voice)
* If you have a stationary mic, you have to actually stay near
it or it doesn't work.
* Hand-held mics suck unless you're used to them, as most of us
aren't used to holding our hand up like that for the whole
* Use the microphone, even if you think you have a loud voice.
It's there for a reason. (the people in the way back not
having to strain to hear and you not shouting at the people
in the front).
And for the actual presentation:
* Small text is useless. If you have to cram it all on there,
that means it's all equally useless. If you must have a
huge block of quoted text, have one slide of the full text,
show it for a second or two to establish context, then show
a slide w/ some important bits extracted out. If you want
extra bits for someone reading it afterwards, put it in the
'presenter notes' field, or add extra slides and tell them
not to show when presenting. (or make a second version
for distribution). Presenter's notes are a good place for
citations & acknowledgements to whatever images you've
included or bits you've quoted, in case you ever want to
distribute it or turn it into a paper later.
* If you have tabular data, reduce all cell padding and adjust
column widths to remove as much empty space as possible,
so that you can increase the font size.
* Line graphs don't show up well. Either adjust the line
thickness, or switch to something else.
* Use the whole screen. Pictures and tables should be as
large as possible. If you only care about part of the
picture or table, crop it or re-work it to summarize.
(you can do the two-slide thing, as mentioned above
re: long quotes)
* Favor putting stuff too high on the slide vs. too low --
people often can't see the bottom edge of the slide
because of people's heads in front of them,
* Make sure that you have sufficient contrast between the text
and the background it's on. Avoid really busy backgrounds.