iWork: Keynote: Sample Slide Critique

As a spin off to a presentation I gave at a local computer group in March 2007, I received a link to Slide Share XTNL URL Just for fun, I selected one presentation at random and selected one slide to pull apart to see how what we covered at the meeting might apply. Here's a quick breakdown:

The Original Slide from an iPod Nation slide show XTNL URL

You can see the slide looks pretty good but my immediate reaction was the bullet points would be too long to keep anyone's attention during a live presentation. Putting too much on a slide is a classic problem and makes it easy for the audience to read ahead. The original slide also uses a serif font (has those curly edges) as opposed to a sans serif (straight looking) font. Generally, a sans serif font is easier to read when projected and in particular for folks sitting a long way from the screen (watch your font sizes!).

My first cut was to reduce the slide down to shorter bullet points as shown below. Note that these points would not appear on the screen at the same time! That's the other classic problem. Rather, these points would build one point at a time so the speaker can use Synchronization along with Introduction and Setup to engage the audience and focus their attention on the subject.

The blue used for some of the text is sampled from the actual color in the iPod's progress bar; however it might have been better to sample the green from the battery indicator since green is a positive 'go' type color and might be more appropriate in this example. If you need to use color in text, unless the color needs to match some sort of corporate image or there's an obvious color choice (stop, go, etc.) sampling a color from the graphic to be used in the text is an easy trick to add some visual balance to a slide.


Since it's hard to illustrate the concepts of how delivery can be modified here on a static page I've included a screen shot below of how the Presenter Display in Keynote would make it easy for the speaker to stay ahead of the audience. You can also download the Keynote Presentation from the bottom of this page; try opening that file and playing to get a feel of how the Speaker Notes can give you a leg up the next time you might have to give a presentation.


Of course, all this is nothing more than one take on how the content might be prepared and delivered. There is more than one way to skin the cat but in general keeping the bullet points shorter, using speaker notes to control Synchronization, Introduction and Setup, and a simpler layout could be one way to help the speaker engage the audience. In the case of this particular example, where content is being posted online for others to read, having longer bullet points might be a valid approach. However, if the intent is to convey detailed content it may be more appropriate to still keep the bullet points short and simple, but also include a PDF? download of your speaker notes which expand on the content. Better still, record your presentation and post an audio file or movie with audio that really gets your message across the way you intended!

If you don't have Keynote (click here to get the keynote file) and would still like to get a feel for how the builds might work, you can click here quicktime When the quicktime movie opens, click the mouse in the presentation window to view each build and imagine what you might say to introduce each point before it appears.

We hope that helps

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