How to present presentations

Turn up early

Being early for your talk is the only sure-fire way to help yourself deliver a great talk. A few posts on here make that point, but it’s worth re-stating it.

I’m writing this on the way home from an event that did a lot of things right. Emails in the run-up made it clear to me, as a speaker, how to set my slides up, what to expect, and how I could help. I had plenty of notice, a point of contact for questions, and an opportunity to iron out kinks – with time to spare.

I turned up early to the session all the same. Experience tells me it’s a good idea. At multi-track events in particular, technicians might have nothing to do with organisers. It pays to make sure you have time to iron out problems with those technicians face-to-face.

Here’s what I was looking for:

Being early turned out to be a great idea. The venue technicians were nowhere near as speaker-friendly as the event organisers.

Being early saved my bacon

I saw comfort monitors showing blank screens. I saw slides distorted by the projector, forcing everything into a 16:9 ratio. I saw speakers looking over their shoulder at slides. I saw speakers transferring slides onto USBs from Macs next to the tech desk. I watched an MC introduce people and hand them the mic and remote slide clicker.

These helped me make decisions about my talk. I could cut a few intro slides. I could double-check the aspect ratio. I could learn the few speaker notes I had trouble remembering. I could also break some of the longer-winded ones into multiple slides, so I wouldn’t forget my place.

I could also see they were running the show using PowerPoint. I’d written my slides in Keynote, and I know from experience Keynote and PowerPoint don’t play well together.

Turning up early gave me time to export my slides as JPEG images. This makes the width, font and graphics static. I could put those into a Keynote deck, export that to PowerPoint, and hand that to the tech guy. That makes the slides a nightmare to share afterwards, but it’s much safer to present to. There’s much less risk of something displaying poorly, or rendering with an error. I’ve seen that happen to PDFs before, so I tend to think of JPEGs as the safest alternative. All that means I had to take out GIFS and footage, but better that than have the screen stall.

Basically, I gave myself time to get my shit together, and gave a great talk. You should too.

@mattsheret - 31 March 2017