I do a lot of talks and presentations - sometimes in boring conference centres, sometimes in pubs, and occasionally in the middle of a field. One of the things that I've learned is the audio-visual equipment is unreliable. The colours can be off, the projection can be blocked by detritus on stage, or the screen can be defective.
It's never a fun experience to flip to your first slide and realise that something is profoundly wrong with the picture. That's why all my presentation decks now start with a Test Card slide.
Here it is in action at the Shambala Festival (the aforementioned tent).
I'm fussy when it comes to the way I present. I don't want the audience distracted by a flickering screen or inverted colours. A test card is the ideal way to see if the visual equipment is working.
Ideally, I test this before the start of the conference - that gives everyone enough time to make sure settings are adjusted and stages are cleared. But if I can't do that - the test card has the advantage of being easily ignorable. People glance at it, realise it isn't related to the presentation and then look away.
Other Top Tips
These go equally for conference organisers as well as presenters.
- What screen ratio and resolution will you be using? High Definition widescreen slides look crappy when squashed into a 4:3 low resolution projection. Know this before you create the slides.
- You need high contrast between your background and your text. I prefer green text on a black background.
- Remember the people at the back of the audience. BIG BOLD FONTS!
- All presenters should present from the same laptop. No one wants to see you spend 5 minutes trying to get your laptop working with a projector.
- Oh, and finally...
Presenters, if you want mentions, please put your twitter handle in a footer on every slide. Title slides gone too soon! #dh2017
— M. H. Beⓐls (@mhbeals) August 9, 2017
Would love to see everyone's Twitter handle on every slide they use #INBOUND17
— Holly Chessman (@HollyChessman) September 28, 2017
SPEAKERS: PUT YOUR HANDLE ON EVERY SLIDE. #ato2017
— Heidi @DevOpsDaysPHX (@wiredferret) October 23, 2017
— Sari Stein (@sari_stein) July 13, 2017
Speaker pro tip: put your twitter handle on every slide. Missing sharing good stuff while finding that info.
— Maaret Pyhäjärvi (@maaretp) September 23, 2017
If you're a speaker, make sure to have your Twitter handle on every slide. It's an easy win & makes us tweeps happy 🙂 #turingfest
— Denise Strohsahl (@SSC_Marketing) August 3, 2017