PowerPoint… So much to say about the world’s most amazing software. There is a certain level of maturity one should go through while blossoming from PP-peon to PP-master. Sadly, some people never mature and thus most of us have to sit through horrible shitty slides for hours. To start out, to the left there, is a slide I may have given for one of my first group meetings. This is a “typical” slide that we commonly see. It doesn’t have much to it – the vocabulary on the slide is simple but overall the presentation is boring and I’m sure it will degrade into white pages of sequential steps. Sadly, the structures were “cut and paste” from ChemDraw, which makes them look thin and dimensionless. In short: It kinda sucks. It’s a step up from some of the trash you will occasionally see. With barf colored backgrounds and huge swaths of jargon filled text, which the presenter just reads off of.
Now check out a slide that I may have used at my last ACS meeting. HOT! Note the bold lines in the structure. You accomplish them in ChemDraw by highlighting your structure, selecting “object settings” and adjusting the line thickness to .018in. Then you save it as a 600 dpi .png and import it as an image into PowerPoint. Your structures will be hot. Also notice the pretty blue bar. Nice but not ostentatious. Of course, if you really want to be awesome, you can follow Paul Docherty’s formula for generating awesome pics. But… no matter what… do not just copy right out of chemdraw! Your structures look like garbage and I will hate you and shit in your face if I see you. The resolution is too low. Cutting and pasting feature of Chemdraw is for Word documents only.
Finally, the most mature effort on behalf of this junior scientist. My version of the web 2.0 of PowerPoint presentations. This is exactly how most of my slides will look. Sleek design, short text, vivid contrast so people can easily see what is happening. Images of cells and gels and pretty pics of cartoon machines made in Adobe Illustrator. The text is a wee bit small, but it’ll be legible on the large screens at the ACS. My animations (Oh yes… animations) are smooth, unobtrusive and illustrative. (The image was yanked from Holly Goodson’s group)
You needn’t fear animations. Some people say “animations are gaudy and distracting” and in general that’s right. There’s no point to flying in text from off the screen when a simple ‘fade in’ will do. Likewise it’s unhelpful to plaster as much shit onto one slide as you can. The only man I’ve ever seen pull that off to any great effect was William Goddard the III. And you’re no William Goddard the III. Animations will allow slow introduction of components to the slide. Again, they don’t have to be stupid shit like “fly in pinwheel from left of screen then bold and make fart noise.” A simple fade in is perfect for most applications. For instance, I would fade in point two of the slide above after explaining point one.
Anyway, that’s just my two cents. PowerPoint can be a dangerous weapon in the untrained hand, which is why it has no business in the classroom.