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Frequently, PowerPoint presentations at conferences do not run as smoothly as desired. Here are a few words of advice based on many unfortunate experiences.


  • Rehearse your presentation loud before you make your presentation in public. This will help you to learn what to say when, and possibly to realise that you should reorder your slides.
  • Learn a few keyboard shortcuts in PowerPoint. Thus, the following works with an English version of PowerPoint:
    • <F5> puts PowerPoint in the mode for a full screen slide show.
    • <Shift> + <F5> starts from the slide currently on.
    • Use the <spacebar> to advance slides.
    • Use number keys. E.g., 4 followed by <Enter> displays slide number 4.
    • To blank the screen, just press the letter B - or the period key.
  • Check your presentation on the PC where you are going to make your presentation. Pay attention to the following pitfalls:
    • The symbols that you use may become different from those that were displayed on your own PC. In particular, this can be a problem with Greek letters and with special symbols. You can prevent problems already when you create your presentation on your own PC by embedding fonts: Select Tools > Options, select the Save tab and check Embed True Type fonts. In some cases, fonts may appear to embed correctly but they do not. The best way to be sure is to uninstall the font and check the presentation yourself.
    • If you use video, the appropriate CODEC (encoding driver) may not be installed on the presentation PC.
      Even though the correct CODEC is installed you may experience the problem that the PC displays your video, while the LCD projector shows only a black window where your video ought to be!
      This problem is related to the graphics card of the PC. A workaround that usually works is to choose a display mode, where the output goes to the projector only - not to the PC screen.
    • It is nice to end your presentation with a black screen. Ensure this by selecting Tools > Options, then select the View tab and check End with black slide.
  • Check how the microphone works before it is your turn to make your presentation.

The above advice was posted by Helge Olesen (March 2006, revised later). Feel free to add further advice (or links to advice).

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