Chris Croft
Tips of the Month Archive

Presentation Skills Tip 7


Overcoming nerves

Microsleeps and what you can do about them

Making your presentation interactive

Adjusting your timing

Powerpoint pros and cons

Making your talk interactive

Powerpoint what could go wrong?

Powerpoint advanced tips


Your opening minute

How to remember your talk

Hi everyone

this week: what can go wrong with PowerPoint, and how to prevent it. Warning: this may put you off PowerPoint for ever, but maybe that's not such a bad thing!! No, actually, for formal talks to large audiences PP is great - and it's really easy to use, quick to edit, e-mailable, etc. so it's worth the effort. Just get it right, that's all I say!

But I HAVE learnt some things by bitter experience, and here they are for you:

a) Your PC may run much slower once connected to a projector, so if you've got an oldish laptop and/or big pictures in your presentation, it's worth being careful. And of course if you click more than once while waiting for the slide to change ("did I click or not?" you're thinking...) then it'll finally suddenly jump 2 slides at once. Solution: keep pictures small, keep presentations small (load several smaller ones if possible) and have a run through with the projector connected.

b) Condensation on the bulb due to storing the projector somewhere cold, like in the boot of your car. Gradually fades to a fuzzy patch just in the centre. Can take an hour to clear! So: keep it warm.

c) Jumpy mains - whole picture wiggling like a bunch of mosquito larvae. Solution unknown. Presumably interference from heavy machinery, men digging up road locally etc.

d) Files corrupted - when you put the floppy in you find that it's been in the sun, or near a magnet, or bent slightly, and won't read. Or sometimes the file opens but is subtly different - maybe the fonts have all got bigger, or some pages disappeared. This can happen even if floppies are not involved, just saving it and reopening it can do it sometimes. Solution: save it more than once, have more than one floppy, and check ALL slides before your presentation. Never run your presentation from the floppy, or a CD - put a copy on the desktop, and check that it opens OK from there, and is not corrupted.

e) Different version of powerpoint. I can't talk about this, I'm too depressed.

f) Fonts not loaded on their PC. On my computer I've got wingdings 2, monotype sorts, Zapf Humanist, etc (yes I know, I'm a sad font freak) so I can have nice bullet points, circles, stars, lovely writing, etc, but if your presentation uses someone else's laptop then they may not have the same fonts as you, so you may just get squares instead. Also, if their fonts are different then the nearest ones (which the computer takes by default) may be slightly bigger, so some of your lines may wrap round and then go onto a new page. Aargh!.Solution: stick to Times New Roman, Arial, etc, and/or use your own laptop for the presentation.

g) Colours may look lighter or darker on the projector screen than they looked on your PC. I suppose I can live with that.

h) a big one: Order of booting up. Projectors are getting more user friendly these days, but you still get some where either the PC must be switched on first, or where the projector must be first, or even BOTH MUST BE BOOTED UP AT THE SAME TIME! (this cost me a whole day of powerpoint on a 4 day course once. We had every expert at the conference centre checking all the wires, etc etc...). Solution - try to have it already booted up and ready ages before your talk - but look out for sleep mode, which sometimes doesn't seem to reawaken!

i) Remote controlled mouse. Whilst it's cool to wander around clicking, I prefer to use a real mouse on a real wire - or the keys on the laptop. I find that remotes sometimes mean that you can't use the laptop mouse any more so it can be fiddly opening files with the remote mouse. Check if you can use both the remote and the laptop mouse.

j) Finally, pressing End instead of Next on the keyboard is a good one. You'll never get back to where you were, and 100 people are watching you and seeing all your exciting still-to-come slides. Answer: see where the End key is and don't go near it!

so, I feel quite stressed now......... but I hope you find this useful

and.... how are those Christmas presents coming along?

onwards and upwards


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