Monday, December 13, 2010

Presentation software: three suggestions

I attended the Second Japan, China, Korea Nursing Conference that was held in Tokyo, Japan on November 20th and 21st. I had a post session and saw several presentation. (Yes, I know. I'm not a nurse, but helped translate few of the Japanese presentations into English. I was listed as a co-author.)

All of the oral presentations used presentation software, and all were uniformly badly done. This is what I learned from this experience, the way to give a presentation with presentation software (if you must).

1. Use more images and fewer words

Even though there were people of various nationalities and linguistic backgrounds, nearly all of the slides were covered in some kind of written words. Too much time spent reading, even when I could read the letters.

2. Set the screen well behind the speaker

In order that all of the attendees could see the slides projected on the screen, the room was darkened. That meant that only the scree was visible in the dark room. The presenter was hidden behind a podium on one corner of the stage, their faces bathed in a ghostly light provided so that they could read from their prepared scripts. This meant that the light reflected off of the material that the presenter on the podium and hit them at an angle that reminded me of people holding flashlights under their chins to illuminate their faces in a scary way. The presenter was a weirdly-lit and insignificant figure at the edge of the stage, their presence totally overwhelmed by the projected words center-stage.

3. Place the speaker center stage

The speaker should be the focus of the audience's attention. The rest is window dressing, and the slides referential instead of seminal.

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