The rectangle behind you
Introduction to the series
I give talks. I usually enjoy giving talks. Sometimes, I get paid to give talks, which I guess makes me a professional…
…although I still rarely feel like one. I speak too fast, I make shitty eye contact, and I throw in “you know” and “right…?” much too often.
But I also like treating my talks — and their slide decks — as opportunities to create my own little universes. Some twenty years ago, I started making most of my slides as HTML apps rather than powerpoints or keynotes. I’ve played with some unusual transitions, tried to engage the audience, wrote a lot of custom code, and up until today I continue experimenting with one goal in mind: to use technology to make talks more magical — to surprise, to delight, to enhance what I’m talking about, to make that rectangle behind me appear to have special powers no one suspected it of having.
I was the original author of the HTML5 slide deck and Google HTML5 slide template. A few times, I controlled my talk with a Nintendo Power Glove. Once, my computer fell off a podium and people thought I did it on purpose. Some other time, I made a movie theatre audience of 100+ people spend three hours looking at a website… and they didn’t even know. What I mean to say: I have a lot of fun giving talks, and maybe you’ll find some fun in here, too.
Of the talks I gave, I’m most happy with these three:
I will share a lot of what I learned: from ideas to code. Maybe it will inspire you to treat your presentation as apps… and even if you don’t, I hope you will find something useful in some of the checklists and principles that helped me throughout the years.
Read on, and let me know what you think.
Table of contents
Slide and presentation design
- The right colour profile might save your slides
- A remote is your biggest smallest friend
- Put two awesome slides in your deck
- Go the extra mile
- Why I love Ignite talks
Presentations as apps
- Why I do my presentation slides in HTML and so should you
- Examples of benefits of using HTML for slides
- Things you should think of when writing an HTML slide engine
- Cheat your way through with skip slides and bonus slides
- Secret keyboard shortcuts
- Building your own presentation remote
Specific slides and tech I built
- The day skeuomorphism went too far
- The cheapest invisible UI I ever made
- Experiments in typography
- An interactive talk companion
- Follow along and up (2018)
- The movie premiere (2015)
- Choose your own (secret) adventure (2018)
- The wild presentation network for the Computer History Museum talk
- Slides for my Webstock talk (2017)
- The magical, invisible remote (2018, article in my newsletter)
- The Ignite talk that changed room colours (2019)
- The making of Four Laps (2021)
Checklists I use
- Questions to ask conference organizers
- Testing the presentation
- A checklist before the talk
- After the talk
The rectangle behind you, a series of articles about interactive presentations.
By Marcin Wichary (@mwichary),
with thanks to Darryl Koopersmith, Noah Levin, Brad Birdsall, and Sommer Panage.