More on Presentations, GDC, PDF, PPT

Garr's recent post on slideuments got me thinking about my current Powerpoint method.

I sometimes do fall into the "write the presentation on the plane while traveling to the conference" method, but after taking it in the face a few times I've tried to avoid it. It's worth thinking on your feet though — a couple of years back I traveled some 14 hours to give a presentation to a group, only to discover that just before we began they had "warmed up" by watching one of my presentations on video: the same one I was about to give. Fast backtrack! Happily I had colleagues and enough extra material to come up with a useful session on the spot (and spend part of the time provoking audience response and asking them a lot of questions).

Being the lazy sort, I use one set of slides for as long as possible while preparing a presentation, rather than separate stage and "slideument" versions — my current method is to make the slides and write all of my expected verbal presentation in the notes, jokes and all — I use the notes as my script for all rehearsals, and so after the presentation, a PDF of the PPT notes pages usually makes for a reasonably representative slideument.

The notes also contain extra info in the way of statistics, source code snips, and so forth.

In making the PDF, I often have to split-up duplicate copies of some slides to accomodate the narrative effects of animation: moving items, fade-ins (new items that cover-up previous items), etc. On occasion the spoken text is just too long for a single printed PDF page, those get split into duplicate slides too. So after the conference, there's a second version of the PPT marked "such_a_conference_for_web.ppt" and THAT gets used for the web PDF. The recent FX Composer 2.0 presentation is the latest example.

If a conference administration wants slides well in advance for printed conference proceedings, I comply, but sometimes just barely — a short "teaser" presentation with just a half-dozen slides or so containing key (and leading) points (and contact info). I don't want people to already have read what I'm going to say before I've had a chance to say it! So far no conference has complained about this "incompleteness" (though people did get an opportunity from GDC to update slides after the conference but before their final publication — the GDConf folks are savvy)

Rehearsal is key. In the documentary Comedian, I love how Jerry Seinfeld is rehearsing standup-routine lines all day, chattering them at people in elevators and so forth, working the lines into his daily routines. I wish I could be 2% as prepared. Every minute spent rehearsing always — always — pays off in comfort level when presenting. And ensures that the slideument is a valid representation of the actual delivery.

Some kinds of presentations, particularly super-tight performance-centric ones (e.g. Lessig style) seem to defy easy transition to a slideument. Is podcasting the best answer for these? I'm curious to try it.

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