The Slideshow Must Go On

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These are a few hints on how to create a slideshow for a conference. Web conferences busy bees are often in need of illustrations for their slides. There are solutions to easily spice up your technology talk. Here a few hints, I'm using for my own slides.

  1. Don't use the computer. Put it aside. Forget it. That's in fact the first very important step of the process. You should forget about powerpoint, keynote, S5, operashow, etc.
  2. Take a pile of A4 ready to go to trash or recycling with one not-printed side.
  3. Cut your A4 sheets in 8 or 4 pieces depending on the size you would like. I recommend 8 pieces because with a smaller piece of paper, you will write less words, and it will be easier to have a global view later on.
  4. Think about the technology and what you would like to say. When you have a keyword or an idea, write it in one or two words or draw it in a very simple sketch. You don't have to be linear. Just think about everything you want to say. The papers distributed on the table
  5. Spread your pieces of paper on a large table or on the floor. You can also pin them on a corkboard wall too (if large enough)
  6. Organize your story. All the topics and ideas to illustrate your talk are under your eyes. Think about telling something to your audience. Think about the transitions. Move the piece of papers around, create new ones, put aside some of them from the storyline.
  7. It is the right time to think about the timing of your talk. Try to evaluate how long you will be talking for each piece of papers. Don't be afraid to make drastic cuts.
  8. Now that the story is organized you can go to the computer and your slideshow tool.
  9. Just do what you did on papers, do not add long sentences, stay simple and clear. A couple of words.
  10. If you need photos, use for example Flickr CreativeCommons search tool (See for example Ethan Zuckerman). Be sure to note, every URIs of photos and put them in your last slide for acknowledgements. You can also reuse some of the drawings you have made on paper, scan them and add them as the full slide. Screenshot of a slide example
  11. Your last step will be to review the full slideshow and repeat what you will say.

The slideshow tool and the computer are only for editing such as film editing. This is the last step of the process and a minor one. Oh… and last but not least, slides are very good for your talk and quite useless after your talk, quickly they become either outdated or lacking the context of your speech. A final hint…

  1. Write a simple one page article about your talk and put it online, linked it from your slides or link to your slides from the article.

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