This is an excellent post explaining why some presentations suck and how to succeed in your own oral presentations. I have much to work on.
I enjoyed this post. What did I learn?
- Don’t immediately jump to making slides when you have to give a presetation.
- If you have to use slides to help facilitate your presentation, start out by writing prose. That is, tell your story. Then make your slides. For a 20 minute presentation, try to stick to 3 slides. This way, only the most needed content (main ideas and graphics) will be on the slides, and everything else should be spoken. I like this because it forces me to know the content of my presentation cold without having to rely on the slides to know what I need to say next.
My current way of doing things? I start off by writing slides immediately. I start with an outline and fill in the gaps. This leads to many slides. However, I do I target my presentation to no more than 1 slide per minute. I have to admit that I always rely on my slides to remind me of the content I am to present. Many times, I even read the slides verbatim. If the slides were not available, I would not be able to deliver my presentation.
I really need to improve on my presentation skills. I think the key to it all is to know the content of your presentation as the back of your hand. This, no doubt, will lead to higher level of confidence when delivering the talk. Having a limited number of slides will definitely help with knowing the content cold.
I use LaTeX Beamer whenever I write a a presentation because
- I’m familiar with LaTeX and want to keep up with the skillset,
- I prefer to write in plain text, especially in emacs, and
- I don’t have to spend time working on the how the presentation looks and just have to worry about content.
I recently re-discovered S5, a way to make presentations using html, viewable by any web browser. I think it is safe to assume that more computers have a web browser than a pdf viewer (especially more than MS Powerpoint, for sure). I don’t really know html, so I searched for org-mode or markdown support. Of course, these exist. For org-mode, check out org-s5. For markdown support, there is Instiki and pandoc. I hope to try these out soon. S5 seems to be a good alternative when my presentation doesn’t involve math equations or source code on display. You can also create Beamer slides easily using org-mode; see this and this.
I was reading this blog post on Revolutions Computing’s blog and discovered the vcasmo service, a way to post a presentation or video with the slides right next to it. This is DEFINITELY something I will use. Often times I watch talks or presentation videos online and most of the time the videos are either focused on the speaker and the projected slides or on the presentation slides with voice-over from the speaker. This method of presentation highlights both the presentation slides and what the speaker has to say, making me feel that I didn’t miss much from not being at the talk physically. Here is the embedded talk that made me discover vcasmo: