preparing presentations

When I remember to blog, it's usually about whatever I'm working on, or something I am thinking about. For the last few days, I have been working on my presentation for the future test conference.

I'm not the last person you would want to get advice from on putting together presentations, but I'm probably close. I thought it would be interesting to share my thought process on the subject, along with a few updates along the way while the thing gets "baked".

The first thing I do is make an outline of the points I want to make. In this case, it's easy because that's what I gave the organizers of the conference a few months ago when I was invited to speak. I also review the abstract and highlight a few things to make sure I make those points (because I hate attending a talk that doesn't cover the points mentioned in the abstract). For a 50 minute presentation, I will try to stick to two main points - three at the most. More than that is just too much to cover and have any hope of interacting with the audience.

Once I have the outline, I'll start making a skeleton deck. I'll pull in slides from other presentations I've done that may be relevant and make a ton of "place holder" slides. I don't add fancy backgrounds, I don't play with fonts - all I do is try to get everything I could possibly need into the silly format used for all presentations these days (Microsoft's own...powerpoint). By the time I have everything I "think" I will need, I may have 50 slides. The final step includes paring this down to no more than 20. For this length presentation my goal will be more like 15, but we'll see how it goes.

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