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Multimedia Presentations Workshop
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A/V Facilities and Guidelines for Paper Presenters, 17-18th April 1996

This document has been sent to all paper presenters at the Conference, well in advance.

This document is designed to help presenter give an effective presentation to a primarily technical audience and is derived from some past guidelines used for presentation to ACM Conferences in the USA.

This document contains the following sections -
  1. Time Allocation
  2. A/V Facilities and How to Use them
  3. How to Structure you Presentation
  4. Rehearsal of your Presentation
  5. Your Presentation
  6. The Time Limit
  7. Radio Microphones
  8. Questions

1. Time Allocation

The time of your presentation is given clearly in the program. It would be appreciated if you aim to speak for 5 mins less than your allotted time to allow 5 mins for Questions and Discussion.

2. A/V Facilities and How to Use them

We supply the following equipment at the Conference -

Slides versus OHP's

We strongly recommend using 35 mm slides rather than OHP's since they make your presentation look more professional.

There is a lot of software available now for preparing slides and it is easy to combine diagrams, text and images. PowerPoint is now example. Start with a good template and use font sizes > 18 point. Place boxes around important formulae and figures. Don't put too much on one slide.

The big advantage is that you have an editable version of your slides to modify for the next talk!

Rules about the use of Computers

  1. We will not supply computers - you must bring your won laptop, software etc.
  2. You must supply your own lead to connect from your PC to the video projector.

We recommend NOT using a computer unless you are very experienced and can always guarantee to get it to work. Given the time allocations in the program we wish to have very efficient change-overs between presenters. If you cannot get your computer to work at the last minute, this is likely to cause a major problem. We will not allow a time extension for you to get this working. Thus we recommend using slides and video. Computers can give very effective presentations (e.g. PowerPoint slides with fades and dissolves between successive frames) and for interactive demonstrations - but we have seen many examples of computer not working during the actual presentation even though they have been tested out beforehand. However, we know that real-time demonstrations are exciting, especially to the audience, and the resolution is often higher, at least compared to NTSC VHS videotape.

If you still wish to use a computer you MUST come with backup videos, slides and/or OHP transparencies that you can rapidly switch to in case of problems.

The Conference Auditorium has an ISDN" line which you can use if you wish. Please contact Martin Oliver (address information below) about this in advance if you would like to use it for your presentation.

Rules about using Twin Slide Projectors

We can provide twin slide projectors, but once again we recommend not using this unless you are a very experienced presenter. Inexperienced presenters often get their slides out of synchronisation and then spend a lot of time looking at the screen and trying to get back into the right sequence. This is not easy to do if you are nervous. Your presentation will be severely affected - you will have lost the attention and concentration of the audience.

If you do require to use two projectors you can show two slides at a time synchronously. Duplicate your slides is necessary, do not rely on trying to move the slide projectors independently. You can also insert blanks (i.e. to give a black screen) when you want the audience to just look at one screen.

All audio-video material MUST be previously prepared and brought with you. Facilities for locally producing material are NOT available.

3. How to Structure Your Presentation

You must NOT read your paper that is already in the Proceedings. Everyone will have this with them and will have probably read it prior to your session. Ideally your presentation should complement your paper, not just re-iterate it. For example, you have opportunity to cover any developments you have made since your work was written up in Jan/Feb. This is quite important. With long lead times for today's conferences, you r work will have progressed considerably since the Proceedings were despatched to the printers. Take advantage of this for the benefit of your current work.

Concentrate on the main points you want to make. You are recommended to answer the following questions, and consider the following important points, when putting your presentation together -

  1. What is the problem I am solving? Are there any previous solutions? If so, summarise them briefly
  2. How did I solve the problem? How good is the solution?
  3. What is the relationship of this work to other work in the field?
  4. What lines of investigation does this suggest for future work?
  5. What developments or advances have I made in my work since my paper was completed?
  6. What are the unanswered questions or problems which still remain to be solved in this area? (i.e., your recommendations for future work)
  7. If mathematical derivations are important in your work, refer you audience to your paper for most of the details, as mathematics is best absorbed in private at an individual's own speed.
  8. Keep a logical thread running through your presentation which relates each part to the theme and helps the audience to comprehend the whole.
  9. The main thing which will survive in the long term memory of your audience will be your visual images and/or animation, so be sure to include visual results in your talk, and make them of high quality.

If you answer these questions in your presentation and stick to the main points of what you have done, we can guarantee the audience will be interested. This is what everyone wants. Please ensure you do it!

4. Rehearsal of Your Presentation

All papers must be presented in English. If your natural language is not English or you have not done many presentations before, you are strongly advised to practice beforehand. Please ask your supervisor or manager to set up a session in your institution or company where you can deliver your presentation to a small group of colleagues. They can provide you with feedback and constructive help prior to the Conference.

Note that this IS also a very good idea even if English is your native language. ALL presenters are therefore recommended to do this.

A rehearsal will also give you a good indication of the length of your presentation. You need to ensure that your get the most important points in to the time available. Remember that at the Conference you do not get a second chance - you have only ONE session.

5. Your Presentation

We strongly recommend using slides rather than OHP's since they make your presentation look more professional. However, if you have to use OHP's then you are recommended to use professionally produced OHP's with large lettering, so that it is easy to read for an audience, and no more than 6-10 lines on each overhead transparency. Above all, you must not type 40 lines (e.g. as in this memo) and then photocopy it on to a transparency - it will be far too small to be read by the audience, and you will LOSE their interest in what you have to say. Similarly, photocopying diagrams from books or your paper is not good - generally they annotation and figure captions are far too small to be read on the screen. What you should do is take the substance of the diagram and add bigger captions etc (by a factor of 2-3).

Another alternative is to use and enlarging photocopier to enlarge the diagrams and captions before putting them on the OHP transparencies.

Remember that is now increasingly the case that the audience assesses the technical quality of what you say not only by what is in your presentation, but also the by the effectiveness of your visual aids and how smart they look. Someone who has prepared carefully for the event will come across more effectively and make a better impression. Thus most people will not use handwritten transparencies today (even though they could use multicolour pens and write in big letters) simply because it makes the presentation look as if it has been done in haste at the last minute.

If you use overheads, and need to point to the text or diagrams, always point to the screen (preferably with a laser pointer) not to the overhead itself (since your body would now obscure the view for half the audience.)

Start your presentation by outlining the structure of the talk, i.e. the titles of your main sections. Then summarise the main points of your talk in the conclusions at the end. The old guideline for preachers and politicians is still true for Conference and technical presentations - this is -

6. The Time Limit

You have a maximum presentation time of 5 mins less than your allocated time in the program. The Chair of sessions have strict instructions to stop you when your time is up, whether you have finished or not. The reason is simple - it is not fair on the next presenter for you to overrun, as the session then ends up by overrunning and everyone is then late for the next event in the program. Remember also that any video extract you wish to show has to be included in your allocated time - you are NOT allowed extra time for this.

Remember a short effective presentation concentrating on the main points of your work makes a more lasting impact on the audience that a longer diffuse one. Your written paper contains all the detail - this should NOT appear in your presentation. Your objective is to get the interest and attention of the audience in your most important results - so that after your session is over you can enter in to discussion with people interested in your work. They will have ideas that you can use in your future work. One of the main objectives of the Conference is to promote interchange and interaction outside the formal sessions. The formal presentations are a means to achieving this goal, so your presentation should assist this.

Remember - the audience do really appreciate a shorter presentation which covers the main points and allows time for discussion. Much better to patronise the few than confuse the many. Session Chairpersons appreciate it too since it will help keep the session to time.

7. Radio Microphones

Radio microphones will be provided for all presenters.
Rae Earnshaw
Huw Jones
John Vince
Roy Middleton
March 1996

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