Making MUCHO IMPORTANT "slide presentation"! Need Powerpoint advice.

Hey you corporate dog&pony show producers and high school A/V club presidents, I need some advice.

I’m making a very important slide-type presentation this week. Basically I’ll show about 20 images in linear sequence on command – no fancy bells or whistles.

I just bought a scanner and I’ve got Photoshop to tweak the raw images. I plan to build my presentation in Powerpoint on a laptop. I will stand at the podium with my laptop. The my laptop will be wired to a projector that will throw the image up on a big screen in front of the auditorium.

Now, here’s my issue. Can I be confident that if the image looks good (that is, sharp and smooth-edged) on my laptop screen it will look just as good when projected? Or might it get noticeably pixilated or otherwise yucky when enlarged? If so, is there a safe size/resolution/whatever I should use when loading the image?

I have never had any problems or seen anybody else have problems with pictures that are inserted into PowerPoint and then projected. Assuming that the audience is sitting a decent distance away from the screen, they won’t notice minor pixilation issues.

Powerpoint probably won’t affect the image quality. That will take place when you scan and when you project. Check the settings when you scan and pick a moderately high resolution (although very high resolution can also mean VERY large file sizes and might affect how fast pictures will load in your presentation). If the projector is decent, then the powerpoint slides should look fine.
I’ve made lots of presentations and sat through plenty and one important thing that some presenters seem ignorant of is that you need to use a LARGE FONT so that all text is easily readable.

Remember, use three back ups. Laptop, floppy disk/UBS storage and printed out as overheads. I can’t emphasis the last point enough. If you computer and/or display fails, you can still use your overheads.

I’ve used a few pictures for Powerpoint presentations and I find that jpeg files work out OK. IMHO, a 100-200 kilobtye jpeg file for a picture that covers 1/4 of the screen seems good enough - the screens I usually work with are about 5 ft by 7 ft.

Depends on the projector.
A projector that will only project the equivilent of 640x480 is going to make your slide show suck.
Not that you can do anything to change that, but find out what dimensions the projector will project and then even when your show sucks, you will have been forwarned.
Also, avoid serif fonts and italics.
They also suck when projected.

IMHO, if a slide looks crappy at 640x480 then a higher resolution is not going to help. If 640x480 isn’t enough to make the font legible or bring out enough details in your image, then even with a better projector it’ll be illegible from the back of the room.

Most laptops can switch between 3 modes: built-in display, external display, and both simultaneous. Make sure you know how to do this. Also get to the presentation early and test the connection. If you are really paranoid, reboot your computer 10 minutes before your presentation and don’t let it go into a power-saving mode. I’ve seen more than one speaker open up a laptop on the podium only to find that Windows refuses to come out of sleep mode. (If this happens to you anyway, start your presentation with your hardcopy transparencies while your laptop reboots.)

As for image resolution, I’d say if it looks fine on your laptop monitor then it’ll look fine on the projector. Don’t use an unnecessarily high resolution, as that increases file size and slows down the computer.

Can you not test it beforehand to make sure it’s okay, then fix what needs fixing?

  1. Test beforehand.

  2. Bring ppt source on CD in case you need to use some
    other computer. I usually do this, and put copy on our
    company FTP server in case PC in room has internet access but no CD drive AND my laptop poops out.

Overheads might not save you, overhead projectors are getting scarce in presentation rooms in my experience.

I like using 2 display mode and “Presenter Mode” on the laptop.
Takes some fooling to get this to work, so getting to room beforehand is helpful. Look at PPT help search for “Dual Display”

I will third the advice to test beforehand, because it’s such good advice.

I will also add that if you’re taking the good advice to have printed handouts at least as a backup, test those out, too. Think through whether those will be in color or black and white.

In my experience it is actually pretty hard to design something that looks good on your laptop, on the screen, and printed out. There are different approaches, such as light text on dark background or vice versa, that are better for one medium than the others. Keep in mind that with projection you probably have less resolution, more size, and more/ varied distance to your audience. These factors all affect how the image is perceived. So your goal should be to prioritize which medium is most important (sounds like projection in your case) and make something that looks great projected, but OK in the other 2 formats.

Best of luck to you on the presentation!

As others said, test first. Give yourself 5-10 mins before the presentation to make sure you don’t have a power-save or other mess-up.

Also: Make SURE to bring your power supply.

Rabid_Squirrel made the wise recommendation to have a backup on CD or diskette, but I disagree about having overheads. It’s a rare place that even has an overhead projector anymore. They’re pretty much like typewriters.
Don’t worry about pixelation. Everything will be fine.

You didn’t mention the content of your presentation, but 20 slides is typically around an hour, which is a pretty long presentation. Depending on things, you may want to cut that down.

Good luck!