Slide building tips

May 13, 2015

Kind of a grab bag of things I learned last year while building slide decks for my talks in Keynote. Keynote has a lot of really nice features and defaults to help you make a visually appealing set of slides even if you’re not a designer.

Keynote things:
  • My favorite thing about Keynote is the ability to group slides together. It's really useful to be able to deal with sections of slides at a time by collapsing/uncollapsing, and you can even nest these groups for further sub-sections.
  • You can also "Skip" slides to hide them from view without having to delete them...sometimes I'll put an Appendix section at the end for slides I'm not sure about and then I can Skip them all as a group to hide them from the printed PDF version for uploading to speakerdeck.
  • There's a lot of power in customizing the master slide templates and doing so early on so that similar sets of slides (section headers, repeats of the agenda, etc.) can be updated in one fell swoop later on
  • You can set text fields to be editable in order to have placeholders with the right styles applied, but being able to customize the content. I did this with the navigation breadcrumbs along the top of the slides in How To Be a Better Junior Developer
  • Do a couple runthroughs where you click through your slides really quickly, which helps you notice mistakes in alignment/spacing that aren’t consistent
  • If you want to practice on own computer w/o display and see speaker notes, choose “View > Rehearse Slideshow”
  • I like the orientation of slides where the current slide is on the left, the next slide or action build is on the right, and your notes are on the bottom, as well as having the timer at the top:

  • for color schemes, use hex code converted into numbers to figure out what the RGB color equivalent is. Apparently you can also use Mac color palettes? I need to learn how to do this.
  • Getting photos: search on flickr under Creative Commons 
  • Icons: The Noun Project
  • The font in my slides is all just Helvetica, altering between light and bold (but avoid Helvetica Light on a dark background, becomes hard to read).
  • When it was bold, especially for headers I also set the letter spacing so that the letters would be a lot closer together, based on my designer friend's advice. See this example slide.
  • Don't be afraid to move up text closer to header from the default in the template for better spacing

Uploading slides:
  • To get a PDF to upload to something like Speaker Deck, “Export to PDF” instead of printing and saving to PDF; the latter leaves you with a white border above and below the slides
  • As a viewer, I like it when people have detailed speaker notes with their uploaded slides because it’s faster for me to skim through those than to listen to the talk to see how much I might get out of it. As a speaker, it would take a fair amount of extra effort on top of what I already put into building the slides and practicing the talk to make the speaker notes readable and not embarrassing :) so as a result I’ve only just uploaded the slides, plus hypocritically, even though I don’t like watching videos that much, I kind of want other people to watch mine.