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Slides for the Back of the Room

It was my second PyCon and one could cut my anxiousness with a knife. I sat in the vast hall in Santa Clara’s conference center wondering to myself if I was daft enough to try and submit a lightning talk. After getting a few gut checks from my fellow Pythonistas, I took out my laptop and started creating some slides.

This is a familiar story to those who find themselves giving their first sub-5 minute talk in front of a couple of thousand people. Though, the lasting part of my lightning talk that day wasn’t my content, nor was it the treatment of my slides. It was what I had done to those slides that became a talking point.

You see, I had sat near the back of the hall to work on my slides. While it was hard to see anything as it was, it was impossible to read anything that crossed the “lower third” of a presenter’s slide. This irked me and gave me pause. I took a look at my own slides, deciding to only use the space that people’s heads wouldn’t cover. I then filled the remaining space with a message:

“For the benefit of the people in the back, I refrained from putting anything here.”

It surprised me how many people took notice of it, even moreso that they went out of their way to find me and comment on it. But like all things, if there is a sizble effect on one’s user experience, they’ll be vocal about it.

So when you’re creating your next presentation, make sure to keep your surroundings in mind too.