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PowerPoint Pearls. Getting Started, Part 2: Presentation Setting

What is the setting for my presentation?

It is advantageous for you to know your presentation setting. Try to avoid unpleasant surprises if you are going to present in an unfamiliar room. Learn as much as you can about the environment and, if possible, do a "dress rehearsal."

Here are some important questions to consider:

What hardware will I be using?

Some smart podiums are so complicated they make the presenter feel dumb. Familiarize yourself with the controls you will be required to use.

What type of removable disk drive is on the presentation machine?

If you are using a dedicated computer you will need to transfer your files to that machine. You may not have a zip drive, or the presentation computer may not have a zip drive. Burning a CD may also be impossible. In that event you will want to use the Pack and Go function of PowerPoint to transport your files. If you are going to avoid these problems by using your laptop, this leads to the next question...

What are my mousing skills?

If you have difficulty using the mouse or touch pad on your laptop, you're not alone. Plan to bring the mouse from your desktop machine and plug it into your laptop. Be sure to test the mouse with the laptop to make sure that you do not need any additional drivers.

What operating system will I be using?

PowerPoint does not perform well cross platform. If, for example, your machine is a Macintosh but you will be presenting on a Windows machine--beware! If you must develop across platforms, leave more than ample time to test your presentation and repair any problems that arise. Save and transport the version that matches the operating system of the presentation machine!

What PowerPoint version will I be using?

Differences in PowerPoint versions can change the appearance of your presentation. I recently found out (the hard way) that PowerPoint 97 does not support numbering formatting. It is always a good idea to proof your presentation on the projection computer with ample time to correct any changes in formatting.

Can I use my favorite custom font (typeface)?

It is best to stick with a universal typeface, like Arial or Helvetica. Not all computers are loaded with the same sets of fonts. The presentation computer may replace your favorite font and ruin all of your formatting.

What is the room lighting for my presentation?

Room lighting and the light intensity of the projector will affect the color and contrast of your presentation. Here are some general rules to consider.

  • For dark rooms, use a dark background with light text
  • For bright rooms, use a light background with dark text
  • Cool colors (blue, green, purple) tend to recede and should be used for backgrounds
  • Warm colors (red, orange, yellow) appear closer to the viewer and should be used to highlight