Defining a Subject


Adding Slides
Changing defaults

The first decission to be made is the subject and target of your talk.

What is the subject?

I hope you know the subject of your speach, otherwise it will be terrible task to write about it! The common practice to hand-in an abstract to the conference before you write your presentation itself is a good way to have your subject straightened out.

Even if you don't need to provide an abstract, then still make one! This will help you enormously. But first, read the rest of this page.

What is the message?

In three ways your talk can benevit your audience:
Improve their knowledge;
This should be the target of most talks to technical audiences on conferences. The new, or maybe not too revolutionary new, facts you discovered.
Increase their ability to perform tasks;
This is the student-teacher relationship. The target of tutorials on conferences, or lectures on schools.
Get them to appreciate (you or) your subject.
Common target of commercial speaches, and speaches on the management level in an organization.
Defining your message is as important as having a good idea about the subject.

Know your Audience

The type of audience you get the next important part of the content of your speach. Consider the following aspects about your listeners:
  • What is the social background of your audience:
    age, gender, level of education, occupation;
  • In what way are the people in your audience related:
    strangers to each other, colleages, friends, as well bosses as workers;
  • What is the relation of you to your audience:
    your teachers, your students, colleages on same level, friends;
  • What does your audience know about the subject:
    more, less, or about the same background on the subject. To what extend can you use specialist terms;
  • What is the relation of the audience to your subject:
    is it a (mainly) hostile, friendly, or disinterested group;
  • Why are the people listening to you?
    Do they have to, are you their God, or are they really interested in your message.
Ask people who had do a comparible speach to the same group, if you are not sure. Ask people from their audience as well. Results may differ a lot.

Know your Environment

Where will you have your presentation? Is it a conference, or is it on your company or university? Different organizations have different rules. Especially, they differ on:
  • time for presentation related to time for questions;
  • whether interumptions during the presentations are allowed (subtract many minutes from your available time if so);
  • formal or informal addressing of the audience;
  • availability of audio-visual equipment; and
  • dress-code.

Know your Equipment

PPresenter requires a computer which can display its screen-output to your audience. It does not matter if you will use a beamer, an LCD-projector, or something else, as long as you are certain it is there. You also do not need to know beforehand what equipment is available, because PPresenter scales text and images to the available screen-size. PPresenter has different defaults in colour for different output devices; a last moment switch is simple.

As computer, I suggest to take your personal (or borrowed) laptop, with at least a 200MHz Pentium. Perl and Tk are not really your performance problem: creating the large fonts is the bottleneck. If the time from slide to slide is too long, then try a different fontset.

Level of detail

From the subjective information received from above considerations, you have to determine the level of detail, and which details you will give. This also strongly dependents on the amount of time you have: 30 minutes to one hour is just enough to explain one or two small items in a bit more detail. Most time has to be spend on introduction into the precise subject of you talk and conclusions.

Now you can write your abstract (do write an abstract, even when this is not an obligatory part of your preparation).

Next: Design.

Portable Presenter is written and maintained by Mark Overmeer. Copyright (C) 2000-2002, Free Software Foundation FSF.