I recently read a post over at Galileo’s Pendulum that discussed the most terrible scientific talk ever. There are many general lessons that one can learn from the post, and I already try to avoid each of the things that Matthew Francis refers to in public and school talks as well. Today though, I discovered some uniquely school-related Things That Can Go Wrong In Talks™.
Schools in NSW all have great AV facilities (although some are better than others). They have interactive white boards, projectors and a reasonably good PC. When you’re giving a presentation with lots of pretty pictures of planets, this is usually all you need. Of course, you have to use the school’s PC to run your presentation, and that always runs Windows. So when you transfer your PowerPoint slides from a Mac, all of the animations or videos stop working. I’ve had this happen before, but I never learn, so it happened again today. 😦
The other thing that a lot of schools have is old classrooms and halls. This means that they’re not really designed for presentations that need even a little bit of contrast. The room I spoke in today didn’t even have blinds or shutters on many of the windows. Somehow I need to come up with a way to give a slideshow in bright sunlit rooms. Red text on a black background, usually a good way to highlight important concepts, fails miserably under these conditions!
Finally, those interactive whiteboards are great, but they’re very sensitive. If you have an old fashioned pointer and leave it there too long, the presentation will transition to the next slide (or the one after that). Slightly embarrassing!