Powerpoint Presentation

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Multimedia and Presentations 101

Powerpoint presentations (Microsoft Powerpoint or Openoffice Impress etc.) are easy to over do with over exciting animations and pyrotechnics, all of which take the attention away from the content of what you have to say. However, chosen well and executed simply they can make a huge difference to your ability to effectively communicate.

Here Are a Few Simple Guidelines:

  1. Keep each slide very simple with few words in only a few sub-points per slide.
    • Don't read out verbatim what is on your slide - it is not that helpful! Use your slides to give a framework for your talk or provide some detail or emphasis to enhance your words! See this paper about Cognitive Overload and Powerpoint!
  2. Use a simple and tasteful background.
  3. Choose high contrast colours for your text on the background for easy visibility.
  4. Use a typeface like Arial in bold. Only use one font throughout your presentation
  5. Be honest: if you are artistically challenged and your colours look worse that the backside of a baboon then consult someone with some colour sense or at least a copy of the Dulux paint chart handy!
  6. Full screen images work well often to illustrate a point. Remember any detail in the pictures has to be seen from the very back. Crop your pictures if you can to only display the areas of visual interest
  7. Images in presentations can scale up badly and look blocky and ugly. Try to use high quality pictures (large size) if possible but a picture rarely needs to be larger than 1024x768 pixels as this is the maximum details most projectors can display.
  8. If you are not advancing each slide yourself then print an overview sheet (slides 2x3 per sheet) for the person advancing the slides for you. Explain any issues and give them the help they need to work with you
  9. Expect power cuts and blown projector bulbs -- you may have to do without your presentation. Make sure you can still give your talk without it!
  10. If you bring your own projector with you make sure that there is power near where you want to speak from! You might want to take an extension lead with you.
  11. Always bring a backup copy of your presentation! USB Sticks are cheap nowadays. Also consider to take a Powerpoint Viewer with you, just in case you're using a computer that does not have the same version of Powerpoint installed. Powerpoint 2007-Files presented by Openoffice Impress is, well, not very impressive.
  12. If you need audio, make sure the sound people know about your requirements at least a few days before you get there!
  13. Choose video clips well.
    • Keep them very short (1-2 mins) and make sure the content is suitable for all! (i.e. watch it first!).
    • Think how you are going to show them. Connecting in a DVD player or video player, queueing the clip and stopping at the right place are harder to do than it sounds.
    • Ripping the clip from a DVD and saving to the computer as a small movie file and then playing that clip either embedded in the presentation or standalone can be a lot simpler.
    • And then sometimes it isn't!
    • Copyrights! Respect them! There is plenty of material you can use of high quality. Look for work in the public domain, work with a Creative Commons licence. If the author requests attribution then make a slide at the end of your show with the authors name. Never used watermarked images - you almost certainly have not got the right to use them!
  14. Try not to look at your screen as you display each slide
  15. Practice... Practice... Practice...

Problems That We Have Solutions for

I added a video to my powerpoint presentation and it played but all I could see was a black box. Turns out that my video file was an .avi and I needed to convert it to a .wmv file.

Solution -- using a great piece of free software Free Video Converter to convert it from .avi to .wmv and it worked perfectly. It took me about 3 hours to work it out though. I wish we'd had a knowledgebase before!!!!