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Finishing a Presentation too soon

In my previous post about Advice for Speakers [1] I referred to the common problem of going through presentation materiel too quickly due to being nervous. In extreme cases (which tend to happen when giving a presentation for an unusually large audience) the materiel for an hour long presentation may be covered in 10 minutes or less. This is a problem that most speakers have at least once in their career.

I recently heard an interesting (and in retrospect obvious) way of dealing with this problem. That is to label each note card with the estimated time through the presentation when it should be presented. If you are reading from the 10 minute card at 2 minutes into the presentation then you need to slow down.

Of course this doesn’t work as well if you follow the “strict powerpoint” method of presenting where the only notes are the slides. It would be good if a presentation program supported having windows on two displays so you could have one full-screen window on an external video device for the audience to see and one window that’s not full-screen on the built-in display in the laptop for the speaker. The built-in display could have speaker notes, a time clock, and other useful things.

I have just filed Debian bug report 447207 [2] requesting that this feature be added to Open Office. It was closed before this post was even published due to Unstable apparently having some degree of support for this and the rest being already on the planned feature list (see the bug report for details). I found the complaint about a feature request being against Etch interesting as Debian doesn’t have bugs tracked against different releases, so it’s not as if a bug reported against Etch will get any different treatment than a bug reported against Unstable.

3 comments to Finishing a Presentation too soon

  • This is something Keynote does quite well – the presenter screen has a clock and per-slide notes.

  • Keynote (MacOSX) has that feature. You can also can get something similar with LaTeX Beamer (look at the manual, the section that explain about having two screens).

  • I was going to say that, too!

    Keynote’s support for this feature was slick enough (and powerful enough) to get my partner (a CS prof) to move from PDF slides produced with TeX to using Keynote. (She wrote a tool, PDFtoKeynote, to covert her existing slides into a Keynote presentation.)

    Also, on the clock, it has both a clock and a timer (count-up or countdown), as well as notes, current slide, next slide, and a “Ready to Advance indicator” so you can set a time per slide and see that indicator go from red to green when you’ve spent that amount of time on the slide.

    Of course it’s evil and proprietary. I’ll definitely have to take a look at Beamer’s support for similar tools.