Please don’t create a painful slide deck

OK, I know that a lot of you know where I was this week… yes, the MVP Summit. I absolutely love getting together with so many friends that I don’t regularly see… This is by far, my favorite part about this annual event. Yes, I know I get access to cool information about upcoming technologies but after 20 years of this (remember, I started when I was 2 :)), I’ve also learned that a lot changes and so I no longer spend a ton of time learning all about early betas. Having said that, I am pretty excited about SQL Server Denali. I’ve already started to dive into Denali and I’m even more interested in upcoming features. But, things can still change and so I’m not betting the farm on what I see.

Having said that, one thing did surprise me this week. A few of the sessions had slide decks where a horrible “event” template was applied. I don’t directly blame a lot of these presenters because they’re just not regular speakers at events. Many of these folks are developers and program managers on the team and so they haven’t all been burned by “slide management” teams (like I have) and so many didn’t even think to review their reviewed/tweaked decks. As a result, a few slides ended up with some bad color choices. From what I was told, somewhere a template was applied and somewhere whites turned into blacks (or similar dark colors) and the next thing we know, there are some VERY hard to read slides. And, because the content is the most important to me, well, I’m still happy.

However, I decided to put together a short (and fun) slide deck with a few tips and tricks that I’ve learned over the years. I even accepted a few tweets about other snafus during presenting (again, mostly related to slide deck no-nos) and added a few of them here. Feel free to comment about other things you’ve seen, learned and now do differently/better! I’d love to hear more!!!

So, without further ado, here’s the deck titled: How to make the audience turn on you… FAST!
(with a subtitle of: kind of like the cougar in Ricky Bobby’s car… but worse!)


In addition to all of the tips/tricks for making presentations better (or worse :)), here are some additional and VERY helpful links to help you create a better presentation AND become a better presenter!

 But wait, there’s more!

Am I missing any resources that you think are/were helpful? Shoot me an email with the links!

Good luck and have fun!

7 thoughts on “Please don’t create a painful slide deck

  1. ROFL!

    Thanks Kimberly. Knowing my audience will have seen this I’ll need to be *VERY* careful with my upcoming sqlbits presentation ;).

    Another good one point to mention is not to test links/online videos/web pages that you use during your presentation *at the event itself* (Just asking "Do you have an internet connection/wifi at the presentation" is usually *not* enough to prevent embarrassment)

  2. I love, Kimberly, great job!

    FYI, did you forget to run your own prezo through the spell checker?? ;)

    My own pet peeve is your point about "knowing your audience". The key, IMO, is to be prepared for technical AND business audience. I can’t tell you how many times the audience was not what I was told to expect in terms of their level of knowledge or understanding.

    Like you state here, ask the questions up front to poll your audience.

    Obviously you don’t worry about this when you present @ PASS or TechReady. But other venues I find there to be much less certainty about the audience’s level.

  3. I love you too Mark… wait, I mean I love your comment(s)!

    And, yes, why bother with a spell checker… no one will notice!

    Oh, wait, you did notice?! :-)

    In all seriousness though, polling the audience is a really good way to get interactive and get some good insight into the correct direction of the content (at least the lecture). The slide deck is done (obviously) but even that can be tweaked a bit if you have another deck on hand or a section within the deck that’s hidden OR a section at the front that’s lower level that you can decide to go through slowly or quickly – based on the poll.


  4. Read the slides first!! My employer hired a local company for a week of training, and apparently the day I went was the first day the instructor had seen the training materials (certified trainer on Microsoft stuff for .NET programming). He read the slides and stumbled through the examples (and couldn’t figure out why a few didn’t work). I read the online help faster and figured it out. None of us could believe it – self study!

    Anyhow – midday on day 2 we didn’t come back from lunch. We also canceled the check just to get their attention.

    My boss was in a corp presentation. During one presentation the VP looked up at the presenter and said, "I can read your slides faster than you can… please sit down, Next!"

  5. @Mike – Wow! I find it really sad to hear that someone was sent in to just "read the slides" but I have heard that complaint before. I hope that instructor and that company did as well. Canceling the check probably did it!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other articles

Wow! Wow! Wow! THANK YOU!

I announced my retirement from SQL/tech here and your comments on my blog, on LinkedIn, and on Facebook were overwhelming and humbling! I’m so touched


Imagine feeling confident enough to handle whatever your database throws at you.

With training and consulting from SQLskills, you’ll be able to solve big problems, elevate your team’s capacity, and take control of your data career.