Presenting my opinion

I always cringe when people have to present some kind of material in a class – because people (and I’m talking about college students and even college teachers) have no idea how to make an, at least, passable presentation.

Death by Powerpoint is nothing new, but the ways people find to destroy their presentation always baffle me:

1-Lots of text tightly cramped that the presenter then proceeds to read (obviously oblivious to the fact that the audience can read it way faster than him)

2-Terrible contrast, colors and typography

3-Bad image quality (or, god forbid, clip art!!)

4-Bad presentation structure

These are all pretty common MAJOR problems with the presentations, errors that I was already used to see in Portugal, but now, having seen a bunch of Powerpoint presentations here in the USA, i have to add a new one: breaking the flow of a presentation due to sheer technical incompetence.

EVERY presentation I’ve seen here had some sort of video about the subject being discussed. Very good, multimedia is generally a defensible choice to bring some interest and information to a presentation. The problem is the way that it is done.

Every single person presenting (and I’m talking dozens of them here) put a link to a YouTube/Vimeo/whatever on a slide, clicked it, and the computer jumped to YouTube to play the video. Then they just went back to Powerpoint to resume the presentation. And this is just WRONG – and for various reasons.

1-It breaks the aesthetic flow of the presentation (you can have beautiful slides, what does that really matter when you are quick to discard them just to go to some website?)

2-It breaks the presentation flow itself (disrupting the slide sequence to go to a website, having to wait for YouTube to load, having to go back to the slide presentation again)

3-You can really fuck things up (if you end up presenting in a computer with no internet access)

4-There is no good reason to do this when there are (MUCH) better alternatives.

I, too, did a presentation, and I did it in Apple Keynote (although, besides a simple extra step on my part to get it to work on a computer without Keynote, the procedure is the same in PowerPoint), and I included a video in my presentation. Without exiting the slide show. Without loadings and buffering. Without destroying my design.

How did I do it? Well, I just downloaded the video of YouTube (google is your friend!), and dragged the video to my presentation while I was working on it. Then I trimmed it, adjusted volume, and treated the visual of the video player right inside my program. And finally (and just because the computer I was going to present in didn’t have Keynote installed) I exported it as a QuickTime Movie (Ending up with a movie, inside a presentation, inside a movie – Inception style!) and just played it.

Simple. Effective. Beautiful. And with the added bonus of not making me look like a complete ignorant in the domain of presentation software.

Finaly, as a positive note: comic sans seems pretty much extinct in presentations. Thank god for that.


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