This is part 2 of Jim Peterson’s post On Educating Your Peers. To read Part 1 and learn a little about Jim, please check out On Educating Your Peers, Part 1.
Best Practices for Slides
The information on your first slide can several things: introduce yourself, introduce your topic or both. As you can see, I put only my name and job title on the first slide along with my major talking points. At the end of the show, I have a slide that has my contact information, which I usually leave on the screen at the end so people can send me contact me.
Since this slide makes the first impression on your audience, it is probably your most important slide. It needs to be informative, but not overly so, and aesthetically pleasing. Text on the screen needs to be easily readable, and the background needs to be unobtrusive. In other words, you don’t want a navy blue background with bright yellow accents and screaming orange font colors. For most presentations, a conservative approach is the best. Here’s an example of a bad slide – the web links are difficult to read now, and even worse on an LCD projector!
Your second slide is also pretty important, especially if you are a newcomer to the presentation circuit or a relatively new employee in the industry. On this slide you can give a brief bio of yourself, which helps to establish credibility. Also give hints of your presentation style here: formal, with questions after your talk, no questions at all, or informal, where attendees can ask questions at will. Personally, I prefer the last option of taking questions at will, but if you choose to do this it is important to remember what point you were making and get the presentation back on track should the questions stray too far.
After your second slide, the possibilities are only limited by your imagination. You can make them as simple as black text on white background, or as elaborate as a custom-designed background with pictures and animations.
Pictures and Web links are important in a presentation as well. Pictures help illustrate a point visually and can sometimes do far more than just telling the point. Web links give you the flexibility of being able to go to a site for information on the fly. This can also lighten your presentation by not having to store that information on your slides and as an added benefit all but guarantees the freshest information. One caveat, though. You will be limited to the available bandwith provided. At LinuxCon in Portland, the Wi-Fi was clogged by attendees downloading and surfing, and presenters who had external links had to improvise or do without sometimes because of that.
In the following picture I was making the point that smart phones are becoming integrated into library catalogs through applications and that even the bookmobile librarians may be asked how to access the catalog from a mobile device. Not only is there a picture of the iPhone models available, but also a link to the App Store to see the applications. Once on that site, I did a quick search for e-book readers and showed how there are apps for specific public library systems. It really is something all librarians have to think about!
The final slide comes after your summary slide, where you have recapped for the audience your main points and supporting arguments.
Putting together a presentation is fairly easy but it does take time, especially if you are adding photographs. For this I suggest a photo-editing suite like PhotoShop Elements by Adobe, which is a paid program with a free trial; the GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program – it’s what I use), which is open-source and free to use; or Google’s Picasa, also free. At the very least, your editor should allow you to remove “red eye” and crop the photos.
The best advice I can give you for getting up there in front of those people and giving the presentation is to believe in yourself. You know your stuff! Don’t be afraid to move away from the podium, especially if you are not tied to a corded microphone. Movement makes you interesting, especially if you can demonstrate a point by changing perspectives. For instance, in the bookmobile presentation, I got down on my knees to demonstrate line of sight for a short antenna, vs. standing up on a table to demonstrate how much better it is for a tall one. In the same presentation, I had everyone imagine that a fire alarm in the ceiling was a satellite, while I roamed around the room demonstrating what a satellite-tracking system does while on a bookmobile. You might even want to read this article about presenting like Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple. Certainly he knows how to wow a crowd!
Make it interesting. Move around. Raise your voice. Ask questions and get the audience involved!
So How Did You Do?
The only way to know if you got your point across is to ask. A question and answer session, while not necessary, is helpful in evaluation of your presentation. This can be tricky, as the evaluations may not be allowed at some conferences. Some conferences handle the evaluations for you and send you the results, while at others you must handle the evaluation yourself by passing out the eval forms and collecting them at the end.
But it is very important to get feedback; otherwise, how are you going to improve? I admit that I talked way over some heads at the bookmobile conference – sometimes it is very difficult to talk technology on a level that EVERYONE can understand – and that is a very important thing to remember! Not everyone will like you. Not everyone will like your voice, what you’re wearing, or what you have to say even! They just may not be able to comprehend what you are saying because it is a difficult concept or issue to which they have never been exposed. But you have to know where you are falling short in your presentations in order to make them better.
You are a presenter, or want to be, because you are passionate about your job. You have information that can help another person achieve the same goal you had. You are not afraid of speaking in public, or maybe you are, but what you have to say is important enough that you have to get up there and just do it. Whatever the reason, take your time and do it right! Make sure you cite your sources and provide links if they are from the Internet. Use pictures, animations, bells, whistles or whatever it takes to make your point. Don’t be afraid to move around the stage. Mingle in the audience if you can. And finally, get feedback from the crowd. You need to know if your point was clear and if the audience understood you.
As librarians we have the insatiable need to collect information and store it somewhere in our noggins, often forgetting that others may need to know that also. Even if it’s a regional library training session, you can help others in your state by passing on that which you have learned. And, you might just learn a little something yourself.
Thank you for reading the Young Librarian Series! Do you have an idea for a post? Send an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the Submissions page. See you next week!