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Making Presentations for Fun and Profit Best practices for building on-screen presentations

1. General Strategies Before you begin How is the presentation going to be shown? First up: find out how the preso is going to be displayed. Will it be projected? From a laptop? PC or Mac? Moon’s laptop or someone else’s? Will it be embroidered in real time by Nepalese farmers? Start asking questions before you start pushing pixels. Your account manager is the best place to start.

Where is this leading? Will the presentation need to be repurposed later on? Sometimes clients love the preso so much they’d like to have them printed up as t-shirts, but, embarrassingly, you have to explain that the resolution is too low. If you know that you’re going to need the data in a different format later on, you can take steps now to ensure that it’ll be possible. For example: creating your designs as vector art in Illustrator (as opposed to as bitmaps in Photoshop) means that they can be scaled up to any size.

‘Puter Procurement Portends Profit

Viva el Resolution. Most projectors have a native resolution of 1024x768 pixels, which, coincidentally, is one of the built-in settings in Keynote. It’s a slightly different aspect than A4, so you may have to rejig a few elements to fit them on the page. If you’re using Illustrator or InDesign, it helps to set the units to “points” when you’re designing for the screen. See the appendix for more fun trivia about resolution.

Book in a laptop now. Book in a good one. Make sure it has Keynote installed, and not a dodgy trial version that’s going to expire minutes before presentation time. Make sure it has more than 500KB of free disk space. Make sure it has all relevant fonts installed. Make sure it doesn’t have David Hasselhoff as wallpaper (or, depending on the client, make sure it does).

The Hoff isn’t just a respected actor and recording artist – he makes a swell desktop, too.

Mac users are from Mars, PC users are from Uranus

Mmmm...Mac OS “Perestroika” edition.

Page 2 – General Strategies

Find out we’re providing a presentation laptop, or if it will be shown on a relic from Soviet Russia. There is a wide variety of machines out there and not all of them are Macs; Keynote is Apple only software. If your PC-toting client wants to run the preso from his lappie, you may have to produce it in PowerPoint (ack), put it together as a simple PDF, or even produce a DVD.

Presenting for Fun and Profit

Collating content

A processor isn’t just for Christmas

What’s in a name? Being organised is, like, a total drag. But naming files and putting them in an ordered hierarchy will save time in the long run, particularly if anyone else has to work on the job. Grouping related files by slide can save time when making last minute changes.

The chunkier an imported file, the more hassle your little laptop is going to have making it sing and dance. Resizing images before importing them will reduce load on the computer, meaning the presentation will run more smoothly and it’ll take less time to copy over the network. Remember that CMYK mode is for print; if you’re designing for the screen, convert any images to RGB mode.

Layout Bump bump bump, bump it up Screen resolution is dramatically lower than print, so try to keep type at a legible size. Test its readability by running the actual presentation through a projector and standing well back. You might find it useful to drink several vodkas (thereby simulating a loss of focus). Remember: while 6 point type on a business card says “hip”, on a projector it says “eyestrain”. WTF? Not what you want to see when you’re making last minute changes.

Ahhh...the folder organisation equivalent of taking a long hot bath.

Adapt or die If you’re adapting an existing document, it’ll obviously make it easier if you can get your hands on the original InDesign/Illustrator file. Copy and paste text straight into Keynote. A key note to note: Keynote will try to retain the style of the text that has been copied. To match the style of the text box that you’re pasting into, select “Paste and Match Style” from the Edit menu.

Presenting for Fun and Profit

It’s being presented on screen – AND paper? It’s true, some clients like hacking up Amazon rainforests to take your pictures with them. Due to the difference in aspect ratio between the page and the screen, we’ve devised a devilishly clever method to make the most of both mediums. If you set up your presentation to 1191 x 842 pixels, you’ll be able to import A3 or A4 content from InDesign or Illustrator without resizing.

Yes, but will the client respect you in the morning?

General Strategies – Page 3

2. Taming Microsoft PowerPig Why PowerPig?

Layout and design

So someone’s making you use PowerPoint. You search for reasons – was it something you said? Is it bad karma? Or do people simply hate you? Don't despair – it might not be as bad as you're making out. There are actually some valid reasons that PowerPoint can be a PPP (Preferred Presentation Program).

Fade into the background (image)

Advantages of The Pig

He uses PowerPoint. Isn't it about time you tried it?

It's an industry standard, like Microsoft Word. Anyone can use it, and it runs on Microsoft Windows, as well as OS X. It’s installed as part of Microsoft Office, and consequently PowerPoint is on millions of computers worldwide.

Disadvantages of The Pig PowerPoint doesn’t understand Illustrator, Photoshop, or PDF files. It can be confusing. Plus, it looks like a dog threw up on it.

Unfortunately, if you're designing a cross-platform PowerPoint template, you don't have an enormous amount of control. The Finally, a background the background image is the one design element that you will whole family can enjoy have complete control over, so use it wisely. Any fonts and layout you use for the background will be consistent between different machines. Note that the colour shifts somewhat between Macs and PCs (PCs represent colours a little darker), so it’s wise to check colour on a Windows machine if possible. If you set the image dimensions to 1600 x 1200, there will be enough resolution to scale up to most screens without the file size being too chunky to handle. Save it as a high‑quality JPEG and Bob could quite possibly turn out to be your uncle.

Fonts of wisdom If you’re designing a template that will be used on a PC, it’s important to realise that the fonts might not be installed. If this happens, the fonts will default to something else. Something … terrifying. Ensure you check the appearance of the presentation on a PC before sending it off to the client. It might be necessary to buy the font and have it installed on the client’s machine for it to work correctly.

Page 4 – Microsoft PowerPig

Quite possibly how your client might look if the fonts aren’t right

Presenting for Fun and Profit

Editing master slides PowerPoint shares the concept of “Master Slides” with Keynote. One “title” per slide, one “body” per slide.

Extra points for nerds Learn these shortcuts, and in no time you’ll be flipping between views like Bill Gates on crystal meth:

• There are only two master slides available in PowerPoint: the “slide master” (View > Slide Master) and the “title master” (View > Title Master). ctrl-shift-z slide view • You can add other elements to slides too, such as a footer, slide number, and date info: Format > Master Layout.

ctrl-shift-x outline view

• Use the outline view to see formatting problems or move text around

ctrl-shift-v thumbnail view

Video nasties PowerPoint isn't always happy about playing back video. To ensure the most compatible playback, it's good to provide MPEG files rather than Quicktime. Not all Windows machines have Quicktime installed.


ctrl-shift-b start slideshow cmd-shift-m new slide Shift+Click edit master slide Slide View Button

When everything’s been signed off, it’s time to put it on a disk or upload it to the net. PowerPoint automatically includes any images you’ve used, so don’t worry about including them. • Save as > Design Template. This will save a “pot” file (tee hee) that you can then apply to any PowerPig presentation to quickly skin it in the style you’ve designed. • In order to apply the “pot” file: Format > Slide Design.

Presenting for Fun and Profit

Microsoft PowerPig – Page 5

3. Learning To Love Keynote Building the preso

Yes, Master Master slides are the Keynote equivalent of master pages in InDesign. If you take the time to set up templates for the general layout and design, you’ll find that slides are more consistent and last minute changes are easier to make. A couple of other handy master page tricks:

PSD, PNG, TIF, JPG, GIF, EPS...WTF? Keynote does a good job of understanding image file formats. You can throw a Photoshop PSD file right in there, and it will retain any transparency (same goes for PNG). As a rule of thumb, very clean (flat colour, white space) images compress well using PSD or PNG, whereas photographic images compress well using JPEG. None of your images should be much larger than 1MB; if they are, check the dimensions and try resaving.

A few of these often help.

Keynote can also import PDF documents. If you’ve saved an Illustrator file with the option “Create PDF Compatible File” ticked, you can effectively drop Illustrator files straight into Keynote. The main advantage of this technique is that any vector information is retained, so type and curves will look crisp it me you’re looking for? when they’re printed out. Note that type seems to render better when using PDF/ Illustrator files, as opposed to bitmap image formats. It’s therefore preferable to keep imported artwork as Illustrator where possible.

Keynote or Illustrator? Keynote does a good job of rendering type on screen and has the advantage of being easily editable. For complex charts, illustrations, or fancy transitions however, it may be easier to build the elements in Illustrator and then import them into Keynote. Use your discretion when choosing how to assemble a slide; if it’s just a few bullet points then Keynote will do nicely, whereas anything very complicated will be easier to achieve in Illustrator. Type geeks: be aware that kerning is infinitely easier in Illustrator than Keynote.

Page 6 – Keynote

• If you’ve moved an element that’s linked to the master page and you want to return it to its original position, just select it and choose “Reapply Master to Slide” from the “Format” menu. It should snap back into the position (and format, if it’s type) defined by the master slide.

Master slides will unleash power beyond your wildest dreams! Probably.

• If you apply a transition to a master slide, new slides based on that master will automatically have that transition applied.

Bob le Builder You can apply a build to several elements at once. Drag or shift‑click to select everything that you’d like to add the effect to, and choose the build from the popup menu. You can edit the transitions en masse while they’re still selected.

Inspector gadgets

All hail the patron saint of Keynote.

The Inspector palette is where you do most of your work in Keynote, but it’s a fiddly little bugger with lots of buttons. Select “New Inspector” to make a whole new palette if you’re constantly changing back and forth between modes.

Presenting for Fun and Profit

The big day

Spel checking Keynote has Apple’s spell checker built-in. It won’t catch errors in linked documents like JPEGs, but for text entered straight into Keynote it’s a very quick and handy way to fix those glaring typos.

D’oh. Better hope your CV’s up to date.

Crash? Test, dummy

Let’s get spaced, maaaan Layout: it’s all about lining things up, innit? Don’t overlook “Align Objects” and “Distribute Objects” in the “Arrange” menu for instant gratification. Try turning on “Show guides at object edges” under the preferences for more guidey goodness.

A potent visual metaphor.

Get the preso onto the laptop and test it out sooner rather than later. If there are any problems (transitions that are too slow, missing fonts, lack of disk space etc), you’ll need time to fix them up. If you have access to the projector and a bit of time up your sleeve, plug it in and run it through. Projected images and type can look very different than they do on a lappie.

Flirting with disaster

Let icons be icons Keynote has some nifty little icons to provide feedback. These indicate whether a slide has a transition, or if elements on a particular slide have builds appiled to them. Use “Light Table” view to see all your slides at a glance.

The immutable rule of presenting: if something can go wrong, it will. Provide a print out of the presentation so that if the projector explodes on the first slide, the show can go on. You can export to a variety of formats directly from Keynote; PDFs are great for emailing, and Flash SWF will run on Windows PCs even without the fonts installed.

Please, won’t anyone think of the presenter?

1. No builds or transitions applied. That’s some dull ass slide.

2. Triangle in the corner: slide transition applied. Mmm...tasty.

Presenting for Fun and Profit

3. Dots in the corner: builds applied. Fasten your seatbelts.

4. Dots and triangles: transitions and builds. Client weeps with joy.

You’ll find “Presenter Display” under the Preferences menu. This is where you set up what the presenter will see on the laptop (as opposed to what’s being projected). People have different presentation styles; they might want to see their notes, a countdown timer, the next slide etc. You can turn the different components on or off, and change their size and layout.

Set up the “Presenter Display” so the presentation giver knows what hot slide is coming up next.

Keynote – Page 7

Black in back If you put a plain black slide at the end of the preso, you’ll ensure the client isn’t suddenly looking at all your dodgy MP3s cluttering the desktop.

And finally… Just before hopping in the cab have a final check that you have everything: laptop, presentation, printout, power cord, projector, breath mints and condoms (hey, you never know). Go get ‘em, tiger!

Page 8 – Keynote

Presenting for Fun and Profit

Making Presentations for Fun and Profit  

Ian's irreverent tips on creating presentations, with a focus on Apple's Keynote (and a short nod to PowerPoint, too). Produced for Moon Des...

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