We mostly focus on ultrasound here, but a large part of what we do is information exchange, adult education, and the like. We give a lot of presentations, and many of our faculty are interested in the art of speaking, the aesthetics of presentation design, and adult education.

So from time to time we’ll post on presentation-related topics; I hope you find them as useful as we do.

Slide Sorter View

When I’m polishing a talk, I like to look at the slides in Slide Sorter view. I use PowerPoint; Keynote calls this view Light Table. If you are using Prezi, just close your eyes and spin around 20 times really fast. That’s how your audience feels. Now stop it.

Slide sorter has many uses- right now I want to focus on using it as a final litmus test for how interesting your talk is going to be. If you have crafted an engaging presentation, you’ll be able to tell pretty quickly based on this “big picture” view of your content.

Before

Here’s the slide sorter view of a talk I gave during residency. The topic was cyanide poisoning, but it doesn’t really matter. Do you want to hear this talk? I don’t. Take a minute and imagine what this talk will sound like. If you pull out this slide deck (I’m deliberately using that archaic term), you have lost before you started. You could read this in your best Ben Stein monotone, or bend over and speak the words out of your butt like Ace Ventura. It doesn’t matter. We’ve all seen this type of talk a million times. A resident reads some articles, pastes data into the slides without fully assimilating the information themselves. Then we have to listen to them tell us something we could read for ourselves. The resident (in this case, my past self), has taken a dry topic and kept it dry.

After

In contrast, here’s a talk I recently gave as part of Sinai’s White Coat ceremony day. What was the topic? Again it doesn’t matter. Look at the slides. Are you curious to find out what was said?

What’s that wooden tube? Will the boat catch the submarine? Why is that guy in a bathtub? The visuals here are just a part of the process. Hopefully they are designed to augment what is being said by the speaker. Hopefully there is real content here and it’s not just a bunch of pictures. But at least the speaker and audience are not engaged in a race to read through the words on the slides. That’s a race no one wins.

How to use this

The Slide Sorter test is among the last things I check. It’s like looking at yourself in the mirror as you leave the house. You should already have combed your hair and buttoned your fly by then, but the mirror will let you know before it’s too late. There’s an art and science to slide design, which starts way before this. But this is a simple final check.

Slide Sorter view is also very helpful in rearranging slide order and keeping the threads of your talk together. Garr Reynolds, the presentation zen master, uses Slide Sorter view to storyboard his talks as he builds them.

If you haven’t tried this trick, compare your favorite and your worst talk using this view and see if you can spot any differences.