There are many big things that you can do to improve your slides. There are also many small things that you could, and should, be doing. This presentation shows some tips for easily adding polish to your presentations.
Polish that presentation! 25 tips to bring clarity to your slides
Slide Optometry Keith Bradnam http://ﬂickr.com/photos/mr_john/3705255879/This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0Unported License.Copyright Keith Bradnam 2012
Bringing clarity to your slides Keith Bradnam http://ﬂickr.com/photos/mr_john/3705255879/This is a talk about some simple things that you can do to improve your presentations.
There are many BIG things you can do to improve a talkBig things can take time to work on. E.g. trying to turn your talk into a story, adding abeginning, middle, and end etc.
There are many BIG things you can do to improve a talkSome examples of ‘big things’ which are not always quick things to work on. Thispresentation is *not* about these types of presentation skills.
Have very clear Turn talk take-home messages into a story Know what slides are coming up Be entertaining Give sufﬁcient background Rehearse! There are many BIG things you can do to improve a talk Summarize Tailor the talk effectively Speak with passion to the audience Give sufﬁcient Understand Separate talk into background the science distinct sectionsSome examples of ‘big things’ which are not always quick things to work on. Thispresentation is *not* about these types of presentation skills.
There are many small things you can do to improve a talkThis is about small things, also known as...
http://ﬂickr.com/photos/bobleckridge/7983214053/The simple quick ﬁxes that you can easily make to polish your presentations.
http://ﬂickr.com/photos/bobleckridge/7983214053/ Low hanging fruitThe simple quick ﬁxes that you can easily make to polish your presentations.
25 slide optometry tipsEver been to the optometrist where they ask you “does it look better like this? Or like this? Isit clearer with this? Or with this?” Well this presentation will ask you similar before/afterquestions. Twenty-ﬁve pairings of slides with one type of alteration made.
Porcupine genomics 10/25/2012 http://korflab.ucdavis.eduDo you like your slides looking like this?
Porcupine genomics 10/25/2012 HTTP://KORFLAB.UCDAVIS.EDUOr like this?There is nothing wrong with using black text on a white background. But it can sometimesget a little boring. Slide themes can often, but not always, enliven a dull presentation. Stayaway from cartoonish themes or those that are very dated (e.g. yellow text on bright bluebackground).
PORCUPINE GENOMICS 10/25/2012 http://korﬂab.ucdavis.eduA nice bright, modern style. But could it be improved?
PORCUPINE GENOMICS Keith Bradnam 10/25/2012 http://korﬂab.ucdavis.eduBetter now?I’m always amazed when I go to talks where people fail to introduce themselves and evenomit their name from the title slide. This is the one slide that may be on screen longer thanmost (assuming you are ready to present while people are still arriving). Add your name!
PORCUPINE GENOMICS 10/25/2012 http://korﬂab.ucdavis.edu Keith BradnamDoes it look better when you hide your name away in a corner?
PORCUPINE GENOMICS Keith Bradnam 10/25/2012 http://korﬂab.ucdavis.eduOr better now, when it is center stage? Don’t be afraid to take credit for your work. You wantpeople to remember you, and letting them see your name is the ﬁrst step.
PORCUPINE GENOMICS Keith Bradnam http://korﬂab.ucdavis.eduDon’t clutter your title slide with logos for every affiliation that you worked with or whofunded you. If there was an important collaboration between different institutions, thenmaybe that merits a separate slide to highlight the fact.
PORCUPINE GENOMICS Keith Bradnam http://korﬂab.ucdavis.eduThis is a cleaner slide, but I’d still prefer removing my departmental logo altogether. The twoimportant things on this slide should be a) who I am, and b) what am I going to talk about.
PORCUPINE GENOMICS Keith BradnamA clean title slide, but is this the best that it could be?
PORCUPINE GENOMICS http://ﬂickr.com/photos/artbandito/18090396/ Keith BradnamFor most presentations, you should be able to ﬁnd a pleasing image that relates to your talk.People respond well to images. If you work on any plant or animal, then you almost certainlyshould have no trouble ﬁnding something suitable.Here I use a freely licensed image from Flickr’s ‘Creative Commons’, a great collection ofimages for all occasions (attribution usually required).
Species included in this study Mouse (Mus musculus) Pig (Sus scrofa) Cow (Bos taurus) Elephant (Loxodonta a!icana)A neat, bullet-point list. What’s so wrong about this?
Species included in this study http://ﬂickr.com/photos/randomreality/8093539/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/thelivelygirl/5261389796/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/danielrowe/5743445752/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/the_farnsworths/4720850597/When everyone on the planet knows the animals in questions, perhaps you don’t need to addtheir names. Instead you could just ﬁnd some great images to highlight what you work on.
Species included in this study http://ﬂickr.com/photos/randomreality/8093539/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/thelivelygirl/5261389796/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/danielrowe/5743445752/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/the_farnsworths/4720850597/Same slide as before, but could it be simpliﬁed any more?
http://ﬂickr.com/photos/randomreality/8093539/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/thelivelygirl/5261389796/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/danielrowe/5743445752/ http://ﬂickr.com/photos/the_farnsworths/4720850597/Some slides don’t really require any form of title. People sometimes feel obliged to add titlesto every slide because that’s what the presentation software prompts you to add. However, ifyou have many people in your audience that are not native speakers of your own language,having text can help people more easily follow your presentation.
Winter http://ﬂickr.com/photos/marcusramberg/89760576/Simple image. Could it be made worse?
Winter http://ﬂickr.com/photos/marcusramberg/89760576/Adding a simple border to images can be useful when your image doesn’t have muchcontrast with the background of your slide. This is one of these things where it might lookokay on your computer screen, but lose all contrast when sent through a projector.
Computing resourcesA simple image. How can we make it look more lifeless?
Computing resourcesAdding a drop shadow to images/objects gives them depth and makes the slides just a littlebit more interesting. Without the drop shadow, the slide now looks very ﬂat. You can easilyalter the degree and angle of drop shadows.
Go Ags!A simple image, with a minimal drop shadow. Let’s make it a million times worse
Go Ags!If you take a small image and enlarge it in your presentation software, you will end up with apixelated image that will look horrible. Never increase the size of the images beyond theiroriginal size. Instead, ﬁnd a higher resolution version of the image.
Puppet show and Minor GrooveSometimes we have photos/images that contain extraneous components at the edges.
Puppet show and Minor GrooveNow we have cut out the cruft! The basic point here is that you don’t have to present all of animage. You can crop it or mask it, to focus only on the parts you want to show.
THE MEERKAT GENOME Keith BradnamA polished title slide, with simple title and author name. What more could you want?
The Meerkat Genome Keith BradnamIf you have an strong/beautiful/inspiring image, then consider breaking out of the usual slideformat and make your image ﬁll the entire slide (assuming it is high enough resolution). Nophoto attribution on this one because I was the photographer (taken at San Diego zoo).
Very important graph Region 1 Region 2 100 75 50 25 2007 2008 2009 0 2010The only thing better than including a 3D chart in your presentation?
Very important graph Region 1 Region 2 100 75 50 25 0 2007 2008 2009 2010Including a 2D chart! Scientiﬁc data should never be displayed in 3D, unless you have 3Dglasses to see it. Portraying a 3D image on a 2D surface makes it very hard to accuratelycompare data series. This can be particularly offensive when using 3D pie charts. NO MORE3D GRAPHS IN SCIENCE!
Very important ﬁgureHow can we make this graph potentially unusable?
Very important ﬁgureLet’s change the data series to be barely distinguishable. Don’t ever use colors which are verysimilar. They make look very different on your computer screen, but projectors cansometimes display colors very differently.
The Korf Lab Established in 2004 Twelve full-time members. 21 publications Many diverse research projects.Three things wrong with this slide. The bullet points are in several different font sizes, thesecond bullet point starts with a space character, and two of the bullet points end in a period.BE CONSISTENT!
The Korf Lab Established in 2004 Twelve full-time members 21 publications Many diverse research projectsAh, we can breathe again!
What makes Keith very angry? Many things can anger him You should be aware of this Easy to avoid this problem!Nothing upsets me more than slides like this. Leaving all of those single words wrappingaround to separate lines makes this slide very unbalanced and ugly.
What makes Keith very angry? Many things can anger him You should be aware of this Easy to avoid this problem!Now, I’ve simply reduced the title font a little and resized the bullet point text box. Now itlooks calmer and more serene (despite the imminent death-by-Mummy-attack)
Important table Person C00lness Force Perl H-index skills skills Ian 6.023 4.001 135.423 44.0 Nigel 11.11 2.0045 -2.456 0.0 Yoda 86.321 2,234.5 28.242 52.0 Bieber -0.132 0.00001 -200.00 0.00Tables with too many cells are not going to make for great reading by the audience. Are theygoing to be expected to look at every value? Do we need to show them all of those decimalplaces, or could it be simpliﬁed? Can we make the header row stand out a little bit?
Important table Person Coolness Force skills Perl skills H-index Ian 6 4 135 44 Nigel 11 2 -2 0 Yoda 86 2,234 28 52 Bieber 0 0 -200 0Et voila! All very simple changes, and now the table is much more readable (well, before thechanges it was unreadable). Personally, I try to avoid anything more than a 5x5 table, andeven then I will ensure I patiently explain the key points from it.
Result from paperHere is a ﬁgure that I extracted from a paper. I only want you to look at panel C, so Ihighlighted it in red. Don’t look at anything else!
Result from paperBetter now? If you only want to show one thing, then remove everything else. Also note thatthere is no need to see the ‘C’ from the panel label, so I drew a white rectangle over it to hideit.
Methylation patterns in rice intronsAnother complex ﬁgure grabbed from a paper, which in turn has been grabbed from anonline database. Look at all those tiny fonts, and hard-to-read coordinates.
Methylation patterns in rice introns 12,956,000 12,967,000 chr3 Gene Os03g22570Now I’ve tried clearing things up a little bit. I’ve added my own label to the x-axis of thisﬁgure. You can do the same for many graphs that you show where the original fonts are toosmall or unclear. I could — and perhaps should — also add my own legend to this ﬁgure tobetter explain the different colored series.
Growth of GenBank Continues to grow exponentially Shows no sign of slowing Hundreds of billions of bases Sequencing has become cheaper and faster Data from GenBank 2000–2005There are so many things that are wrong with this slide. A 3D chart with old data, which has atitle that is almost reproduced by the slide title. The bullet points do very little other thanexplain the data that should be obvious from the graph itself.
Growth of GenBank number of number of base pairs sequencesA different graph makes things simpler and clearer. I added my own legend, but even thatcould probably go. Let the data speak for itself!
Intron length vs position You can calculate the length of introns at diﬀerent positions in a gene There is a notable pattern of diﬀerent lengths at diﬀerent intron positions First introns in particular are signiﬁcantly longer than others Downstream introns tend to have similar lengths and are shorter Bradnam & Korf 2008: “Longer ﬁrst introns are a general property of eukaryotic gene structure” PLoS ONE Out of 500 species surveyed, 30 out of 36 species that had suﬃcient data exhibited longer ﬁrst intronsToo many bullet points, and too many bullet points which don’t add to the story and justmakes things needlessly complex.
Intron length vs position First introns tend to be longer Bradnam & Korf 2008: “Longer ﬁrst introns are a general property of eukaryotic gene structure” PLoS ONE 30 out of 36 species had signiﬁcantly longer ﬁrst intronsNow, it is just focused on the salient points. Much easier for people to digest. As a generalrule I try to avoid using more than 4–5 bullet points on a slide (and I try to avoid bullet pointslides altogether).
I like cheese Which cheeses do I like? Havarti Brie Shaft’s Blue a local cheese from California! RoquefortThis slide starts off with a top-level bullet point and immediately moves to a 2nd-level bulletpoint. Do we return to the top level? No. In this case the ﬁrst bullet point might as well be theslide title.
Which cheeses do I like? Havarti Brie Shaft’s Blue (from CA!) RoquefortSimpler and cleaner, with no loss of information.
Just look at the difference! Coﬀee Water Milk 100% Stella’s liquid consumptionAll numerical data should be shown graphically, right?
Just look at the difference! Liters consumed Liquid per year Coﬀee 50,245 Water 76 Milk 25 Stella’s liquid consumptionWell sometimes, the raw numbers tell a better story. When you are comparing numbers whichare very different, a graph will never really capture the scale of the difference (unless you dosome sort of log-transformation).
Background research Keith’s breakthrough paper was in 1999 A collaboration with Ken ‘yeast genome’ Wolfe G+C Content Variation Along and Among Saccharomyces cerevisiae Chromosomes. 1999, Mol. Biol. Evol.There is nothing really wrong with this slide. But could there be a way to improve it up byadding an image that made things more interesting without introducing any clutter?
Background research My ﬁrst paper Published in Mol. Biol. Evol, 1999It doesn’t take much to think of ways of including simple visuals in your presentation thatactually add to the content. In this case I, hopefully, reinforce that this is a real paper thatactually existed. It also allows me to simplify the bullet points on the screen. I sometimes doa similar thing with screen-grabs of websites, to show databases that I used.
There are many easy things that you can do to greatly improve your slides.All of the tweaks on the preceding 25 sets of slides took only seconds to apply in most cases.
5 things to rememberLots of little changes can add up to having a bigger overall effect.Hope you found this presentation useful!
5 things to remember i. We are visual creatures...use imagesLots of little changes can add up to having a bigger overall effect.Hope you found this presentation useful!
5 things to remember i. We are visual creatures...use images ii. Use good images. Look at Flickr Creative CommonsLots of little changes can add up to having a bigger overall effect.Hope you found this presentation useful!
5 things to remember i. We are visual creatures...use images ii. Use good images. Look at Flickr Creative Commons iii. Less is often moreLots of little changes can add up to having a bigger overall effect.Hope you found this presentation useful!
5 things to remember i. We are visual creatures...use images ii. Use good images. Look at Flickr Creative Commons iii. Less is often more iv. People remember good presentationsLots of little changes can add up to having a bigger overall effect.Hope you found this presentation useful!
5 things to remember i. We are visual creatures...use images ii. Use good images. Look at Flickr Creative Commons iii. Less is often more iv. People remember good presentations v. Don’t leave slides to the last minute (it will show!)Lots of little changes can add up to having a bigger overall effect.Hope you found this presentation useful!