This blog post is about presentations. And this usually means PowerPoint presentations, although some people do well without it1. Edward Tufte argues that PowerPoint can be a really bad tool to create slides2. But it is probably not the software, but rather the people that produce these slides that are responsible for the quality3. The Neurotic Physiology blog published a list of things you shouldn’t do during a Powerpoint presentation4. But there are also many tips to create better presentations. A May 2008 Nature Methods editorial5 gives ten such suggestions. Links to some more Powerpoint tips were collected in a Nautilus blog post6 by Maxine Clarke. One positive example is this presentation by Matt Wood from the Science Blogging London conference:
The Nature Network Visualization & Science Forum is a great place for further discussions.
Presentations can also be created online. Google Docs and Zoho Show have been around for a while now, but 280Slides7 is a fairly new offering with a very slick interface. The advantages of these programs: slides can be created by several authors working together and slides can be easily shared. But presentations created with Powerpoint can also be shared online. Slideshare and Scribd are the most popular tools for this, and since last week these presentations can be embedded into Nature Network blog posts. By default, these presentations are public and can be seen by everybody. But they can also be uploaded as private presentations and only those that know the secret URL can see them. Presentations in the life sciences can also be uploaded to Nature Precedings8. This way the scientific presentation receives a DOI and becomes citable. But Nature Precedings has still a long way to go with currently only about 50 presentations available. Which is a bit surprising, since it looks like the perfect platform to host conference presentations.
YouTube videos or podcasts are probably the preferred format to share presentations that also include the recorded audio. Having the audio available is especially important for those presentations that have little text on their slides. Many presentations from the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) conference9 have been made available as TEDTalks, including this one by Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor:
If you want to give a presentation remotely (i.e. to one or more people in a different location), you could use that feature in Google Docs10. Or use a full-fledged web conferencing solution such as Dimdin11, which is free for up to 20 users and also is available as Open Source community edition.
2 Kemp M. PowerPoint presentations and the culture of pitch. Nature2006; doi:10.1038/442140a
5 Talking points. Nature Methods 2008; doi:10.1038/nmeth0508-371