Zero Order

A few thoughts on presentations

Posted in Uncategorized by Amy Ross on February 13, 2011

One of the fun parts of being a grad student in the sciences is giving presentations. Lots of presentations.  After doing them for classes and group meetings, I’ve gotten a lot of practice. Recently, I’ve created  a presentation using Keynote, and gave it using the iPad.

My presentation approach:

-First and foremost: I HATE outlines! Scientific presentations have a standard, predictable format. You don’t need to explain it, especially in a short (ten minute) talk.

-Words to a minimum.  I make an exception for explaining procedures. Pictures instead of words whenever possible.

-Dark text, light background. I try to avoid white because the I usually do black test, and the contrast between black text and white background is too stark.  I’m partial to light neutral colors, like beiges or greys.

Since Keynote on the iPad has limited functionality, I did most of the presentation on my husband’s Mac, then transferred it to the iPad using Dropbox.  I also used Dropbox to transfer all my images, Excel spreadsheets and such from my PC.   I had a lot of fun playing in Keynote, and I found it easier to use than Powerpoint. Sadly, no version of Keynote supports error bars, rendering any charts I made useless! I had to redo them all as images. And if I thought “Hmmmm, the font size on the axis should be larger”, I had to redo the whole image. The iPad keyboard only does punctuation symbols, so I had to install a separate app (Easy Symbols) to include Greek letters and plus-minus signs.

I also had some fun playing with the animations in Keynote, but tried not to be overly obnoxious with it. I gave my presentation for a few members of my group on Thursday, and all went well.

I’m debating if I want to do future presentations in Keynote. I think the “Oh look! Shiny toy!” gambit only works once, and it was a lot of extra work.  I might pull it out the next time I need to impress someone.