Save Time by Creating a Presentation Palette

In our PCATS course, we encourage presenters to use graphics whenever possible to illustrate points, display data, and draw the audience’s attention to specific parts of a slide. Repeatedly creating such graphic-intensive presentations can be time consuming. However, you can spare yourself some of the misery by not duplicating efforts across presentations.

We have found that we tend to use the same set of graphical elements in many of our slides—especially elements that draw attention to certain parts of a slide using circles, boxes, or highlights. To save time for future presentations, after you have created such an element, copy it and paste it into a new presentation that you call your “Presentation Palette” (or whatever name you like). Over time, you can accumulate more and more graphic elements on this Presentation Palette. Whenever you begin a new presentation, have your Presentation Palette file open so that you can easily copy and paste frequently used graphic elements from your Presentation Palette into your new presentation.

Shown here is a screen capture from Kevin’s version of a Presentation Palette (named “My Keynote Elements”). Note that Kevin likes using two or more joined arrows to display multiple points instead of bullets (a trick he learned from his Duke colleague, Ruth Day, PhD). Creating joined arrows from scratch requires 6 steps, and so having a basic 2-arrow graphic element that can be quickly pasted and modified has freed up lots of time for Kevin—time that he can now spend learning sweet new guitar riffs, or even interacting with his family.

Kevin's presentation palette

Kevin’s presentation palette

PCATS Video Series Goes Live on YouTube

Welcome to the inaugural blog posting for PCATS! The PCATS series focuses on principles and techniques for developing and delivering effective scientific presentations. The series is comprised of four sections:
1: Telling Your Story
2: Creating Slides
3: Presenting Data
4: Giving Your Presentation

We conceived of the original idea that ultimately resulted in the PCATS video series while having coffee at the Mad Hatter Bakeshop in Durham, North Carolina in early 2011. By that time, we had been co-presenting a talk for several years about collaborating with quantitative scientists and wondered what other educational programs we might develop. We both had a strong interest in the art of presentation and both invested a lot of time in developing presentations for our class lectures and scientific talks.

We first presented the material that formed the basis for the PCATS series at the Duke Professional Development Seminar Series in June, 2011 and have continued to do so annually. When the opportunity arose to translate our talk into a series of online video modules, we saw it as a way to share this material with a wider audience while at the same time developing our video production skills. It’s involved much more work than we anticipated but we have learned a great deal and have a much deeper appreciation for the art of online video presentation. It’s with great pleasure that we announce the release of the PCATS Video Series on our YouTube channel.

PCATS YouTube Channel

We hope that people will find the material helpful and engaging.

Kevin Weinfurt and Steve Grambow