SLAM Presentation Tips

Below is a list of best practices for SLAM presentation videos collected from feedback on presentations last week.

Content

  • Above all else, tell a story and have fun. Focus on these two goals, and the rest will fall into place. This doesn’t mean to be frivolous, or to not take seriously the excellent work you’ve done all semester. Rather, just remember that you’re trying to make content that other people will find engaging, and work toward that goal.
  • Sometimes it can help to give the audience a guide / outline to your sharing. If the content of your presentation is more abstract, give them a three-step (or similar) outline—”First, we’ll…Then…Finally.”
  • Frame everything positively. Nobody but the people in this class (and maybe not even all of them!) know that thing X about your project isn’t where you might’ve hoped it would be or that thing Y is “missing.” Just talk positively about what you do have and what is present.
  • Sell the process. Don’t just say “here’s our app,” talk about the care and effort that actually went into creating it! Obviously there’s a balance to be struck here (too much process detail is boring), but in general, taking a bit of time to show the audience how much care and intentionality went into your project helps them become more invested in your presentation.

Technical Details

  • Show your face(s). Our virtual SLAM already has enough distance added just by videoconferencing. Don’t be a disembodied voice—at some point, in some way, show the face of each person who speaks on a video. It could be a single Zoom camera window over a screen share, a row of Zoom faces, cuts to full screen faces—whatever works best for your team’s style.
  • Good audio is key. People will tolerate poor quality video more than poor quality audio. A few tips:
    • If at all possible, use a mic besides your built-in device mic.
    • Place your microphone as close to your face as possible.
    • Whenever possible, eliminate background noises—turn of air conditioning, fans, etc. If you can’t eliminate those noises and you’re recording through Zoom, go to Settings > Audio > Advanced and play around with the option there to see if they help.
    • Be sure to listen to / edit your recordings with headphones—it’ll reveal a lot that your laptop speakers won’t.
    • Editing your team’s video? Be sure to level audio between speakers.
    • If possible, surround your audio recording space with soft surfaces—blankets and pillows work great. One student even recommended recording in a closet full of clothes!
    • Experiment with background music, either at the beginning / end of the presentation, or as subtle padding throughout. Not a requirement or even a suggestion for most presentations, but just something to think about.
    • A pro move to check out for presentations with multiple presenters in different locations: record some clean room tone and mix subtly across all presenters.
  • A few subtle things can greatly increase the quality of your speaker video:
    • Mind your backgrounds! People aren’t creeps; they’re just curious! Make sure that everything that can be seen in frame with you is something you want seen.
    • Add a light source behind your camera. A (curtained) window can work great, but so can a lamp bouncing off of a wall, etc. Experiment with different set-ups until the light on your face is well-balanced with the light in the rest of the room. The video on this page provides a great overview.
    • If your computer can support them, experimenting with virtual backgrounds can be fun!
    • Aim for tight transitions. Or rather, intentional transitions. Because we’re working with video, you’re in complete control of how smooth or awkward a transition is. Use that control to your benefit.
  • Show, and show a lot. Whenever possible, if you’re talking about something, especially for more than 5-7 seconds, show the thing you’re talking about (instead of static text on a slide).
  • If you’re listing three items on a slide, etc., build in the list one item at a time (vs. revealing all three at once).
  • Good slide design in general dictates the use of larger text in a color that clearly contrasts with its background. This is doubly-important for our remote event, since video may appear compressed for some viewers.
  • Your screen recordings should be polished—if you’re launching an app from a home screen, be thoughtful about wallpapers, other apps on the screen, folder names, etc. If you’re showing a web browser, close all other tabs and hide your bookmarks bar. Be thoughtful about the device frames you use—unless there’s a project-driven reason to do so, use up-to-date device outlines, etc. And work to eliminate missteps (accidental clicks, moving windows around unnecessarily, etc.)
  • Related: here’s how to record your phone on your Mac