Rules for your presentation slides

Presentation software should not allow font sizes smaller than 12 point. But really 20 point. Also, no bulleted lists. No clip art. No Times, no Times New Roman, no Georgia, no serif fonts at all. But serif fonts are easier for people to read, you heard from someone once. Why are they reading? Nobody should be reading anything — they should be looking at the slide for three seconds then looking back at you. No animations and definitely no sound, this isn’t a child’s birthday party. (Unless it is a child’s birthday party, in which case: wow, those poor kids.) No drop shadows, no borders, no shading of any kind — design went flat in 2013. No stock photography if it’s the following: handshakes, people around a table, or people looking at a laptop together. Actually just leave out stock photography altogether — if you or your office didn’t take the photo, it’s probably not a good idea. No overlapping photos or layers, it’s not your scrapbook. No puzzle piece shapes, it’s not your yearbook. No square slides, it’s not 2005. No 3D stick figures holding signs or shapes or running or whatever, those things are a blight on the corporate world. No neon colors, no gradients. No more than three colors at once and no more than 100 characters a slide. Pretend you’re tweeting, then reduce. No slides that take longer than 60 seconds to present. But really 30 seconds. This will keep you focused. And, hey: no hyperlinks. Hyperlinks? Really? Who is clicking — y’know what, forget it. Just don’t. Presentation notes: not allowed. That’s right, even those. Ever see a public theater production where the actors brought their scripts on stage? Nope. Realize you’re also on a stage or at least in front of an audience. Unless you’re presenting in a classroom, your primary job is to engage, inspire, and entertain, not educate. (If you are in a classroom then it’s all those things. Good luck.) Memorize your lines, embrace improvisation, and rehearse, rehearse, rehearse. No more than 30 slides unless they’re quick. But really 20. No paragraphs. No sentences you can’t say in one breath with air to spare. Still no bullets. Not the solid dots, the not-solid dots, the little arrows, the diamonds, numerals, Roman numerals, or letters. Seriously, none.

Basically, if your presentation looks closer to this post than a full screen photo— all or mostly text with pithy little points that are kind of hard to follow —you’re doing it wrong.

Interested in the intersection of Natural Language Processing and the humanities.

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