I have some tips for anyone presenting at ARSC in KC, learned from both making presentations and
also from hosting two conferences (and being the default A/V guy when anything hits the fan) for 20
years now. Free 2 cents from the battlefield ...
1. SLIDES -- keep your design simple. Keep your image files at screen resolution so they are
small-sized and thus load quickly.
2. SLIDES -- AVOID embedded media. I know it's kinda kewl and I know that it's encouraged by the
makers of the presentation software, but it's FRAUGHT WITH HEARTACHE. Ask the several people whose
carefully embedded media didn't play at ARSC Rochester, thus spoiling presentations on which they
had worked hard. Bring an AUDIO CD (Red Book) and a DVD disc for video. Make sure the conference AV
coordinator know which or both kinds of media you are bringing, so the proper player(s) are set up
3. SLIDES -- if you have the ability, save your final slides as PDF document (Adobe Acrobat). Why?
Acrobat works better cross-platform, and your fonting will look exactly or closely like what you
created. Fonts don't travel from platform to platform, so something made on a PC can look radically
different on a Mac, and vice-versa. Furthermore, in my experience, presentation software doesn't
travel seamlessly from PC to Mac and vice-versa. To Adobe's credit, Acrobat documents usually do
work well cross-platform. Bring your presentation on a thumb drive (not a CDR -- what if you need to
make last-minute changes), both in your original format and PDF. When you are presenting, use
Acrobat or Acrobat Reader software. In the VIEW menu is the FULL SCREEN option. You then
arrow-up/arrow-down to advance or reverse slides just like in PowerPoint. This is another strong
argument NOT to embed video or audio.
4. AUDIO -- bring a RED BOOK CD and work in at least CD resolution. Lossy formats can sound terrible
over PA speakers. Just keep it un-lossy and be happier all around.
5. VIDEO -- work in at least DVD resolution if you can. Burn a DVD and TEST IT on several DVD
players to make sure it will likely work in the hall. DVD+R media seems to work on more players than
DVD-R, in my experience. I'm not a DVD media expert so I have no idea why.
6. FOR YOURSELF -- bring a COLOR printout of your slides, if you can. You'll thank yourself on the
podium in case the laptop and projector aren't working in sync so you don't have laptop-monitor
7. FOR YOURSELF -- do not assume the house AV guys are competent. Widely varying levels of
competence, human-interaction skills and initiative plague that industry. Enough said, we all have
war stories. You will put yourself in better stead if you keep your presentation simple, don't embed
media and bitch if they can't get the sound or focus right.
8. FOR YOUR AUDIENCE -- either have a very clear idea of what your talking points are for each
slide, or work from a printout with some notes in the margin. You'll be relaxed and have more fun
and then your audience will have more fun. Since most of us are not good out-loud readers, I'm not
in favor of working from a strict script, but it can help if you're really nervous being in front of
a room. Put your strongest stuff up top, and stick to the point. These guidelines seem to be the
opposite of most academic writing these days, but you'll be presenting to many civilians who don't
want neutral language, dubious "arguments" and too many syllables per word/clausese per sentence.
-- Tom Fine