11 September 2015

Presentation slides - what to avoid

About two years ago, I wrote a post on how to style a presentation. I was at a conference this week and I would like to highlight some easily avoidable mistakes that people made.
  • Do not put important information at the edge of the slide. In particular, the reference to the paper you are advertising should not be at the very bottom, where it can be cut off if, for instance, the beamer is not perfectly aligned with the screen. This happened to at least three speakers out of the approximately fifty I listened to.
  • Enhance the contrast of the images you intend to show. If you insist on showing the raw images, have an enhanced set on backup slides you can use if the audience cannot see the first ones. Alternatively, use light text on dark background and ask the organizers to dim the lights in the room (if possible.) It works for biologists.
  • Do not rely on color contrast between text and background: there should always be an intensity contrast between them. One speaker used blue and red text on green background. It was jarring and, for some colorblind people, probably illegible. I'm a big fan of solid black text on white backgroud, with color only used for highlighting.
Note that the first two points fall under the general principle: "do not expect things to look on the projection screen as they do on your computer."

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