Visual Aids for Presentation

  • Use suggestive graphical illustrations as much as possible. Don't shun graphical metaphors. Prefer an image to text. In my presentations I try to have 80% of the slides with images.
  • Do not put in the figures details you will not mention explicitly. The figures should be as schematic as possible (i.e. no overload of features).
  • Do not "waste" information by using unnecessary colors. Each different color should signify something different, and something important. Color-code your information if you can, but don't use too many different colors. Have high-contrast colors.
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  • A few real photos related to your subject look very cool (e.g. real system, hardware, screen-shots, automatically generated figures, etc.). Real photos are much more effective during the core of the talk than during the intro. I hate talks with a nice picture during the introduction and next only text; they open your appetite and then leave you hungry.
  • For some strange reason, rectangles with shadows seem to look much better than without (especially if there are just a few in the figure).
  • Sometimes a matte pastel background looks much better than a white one.
  • Exploit animation with restraint. Do not use fancy animation effects if not necessary.
  • However, there are places where animation is extremely valuable, e.g., to depict the evolution of a complex system, or to introduce related ideas one by one.
  • Use strong colors for important stuff, pastel colors for the unimportant.
  • Encode information cleverly: e.g. make arrow widths showing flows proportional to the flow capacity.
  • Use thick lines in drawings (e.g. 1 1/2 points or more).

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