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RE: Slides, eye charts, and a beg for readability

2017-07-19 10:52:31

--On Wednesday, July 19, 2017 15:44 +0100 Adrian Farrel
<adrian(_at_)olddog(_dot_)co(_dot_)uk> wrote:

I do think that if the slides were available to be posted
ahead of time, the chairs could make sure they are
appropriate, sufficiently few in number, in the right font,
etc., and the participants who want to could look at the
slides in advance.  
To be honest, posting slides ahead of time is not rocket
science and wen it doesn't happen it is often (barring the
usual excuses) pretty unprofessional.  
Am I being overly smug?

In at least two ways, possibly so, but I'd describe it less as
"smug" than as missing part of the problem.

First, although it is rare (more rare than it should be, IMO),
there are meeting sessions in which parts of slides are
highlighted during a presentation and, more important, are
marked up in real time as the presentation goes forward.  Static
slides posted pre-meeting are a fairly poor approximation to

Second, while I sympathize with Spencer's problem (and, being
both older and dimmer of vision than he is, have definitely had
it at meetings), there is another complication.  If one needs to
simultaneously follow, e.g., a Jabber session and look at the
slides, there is often a size and screen real estate management
and focus-maintaining problem with a typical laptop setup,  At
some meetings I've dealt with the problem by downloading
important the slides and printing them out, then balancing a
pile of paper on the laptop keyboard, but that has disadvantages
too (tree-killing not being the only one).

Speaking personally, while it is not high on the list of reasons
I'm not there in person, I'm actually better off from the
standpoint of slide readability when I'm sitting at home with a
desktop machine and two fairly large screens than I am in many
IETF meeting rooms.  But, even then, if I can't read the slides
through Meetecho, I start feeling as if I need three screens,
one for slides, one for Jabber, and one for whatever is going on
in Meetecho.   That is partially an element of what I thing are
some unfortunate screen layout choices with Meetecho that I
discussed with that team on and off for years but it is today's

However, more important than Spencer's vision issues (and mine),
every study of effective presentations I know of suggests
strongly that one minimize the number of text on slides, using
them to highlight only an outline or most important points, and
that slides dense enough to be read the whole presentation from
them, full-text documents, etc., tend to be distracting rather
than helpful.  I understand (and have taken advantage of) the
advantages of having relatively full text if one is trying to
work limitations in ability to understand the speaker, but that
is really something that should be dealt with as a separate
problem (and can be if we are really convinced it is important