Scott Hanselman

Presentation Tips for People running Virtual PC or VMWare

November 19, '04 Comments [1] Posted in ASP.NET
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I chatted with G. Andrew Duthie yesterday, and we both agreed it was exceptionally egregious of folks who give Microsoft presentations running Virtual PC to force us to watch their silly presentations with 6pt MS Sans Serif Fonts.

People: If, during your presentation, you say "Uh, ya, you probably can't see this" - you're not only not-prepared, but you're wasting my time. You've got 786,432 pixels up there that are NOT working for you, and you've just let me know verbally, and visually. <sarcasm>Kudos!</sarcasm>

So, a reminder for you to spread the word about how to give a Successful Microsoft Presentation and a few extra updated tips for 2004:

  • ZoomTheHeckIn: Seriously, familiarize yourself with ZoomIn. It's a movable screen magnifier, and you wouldn't believe the appreciation you'll get from the crowd when they can actually see what you're doing.  Remember those 786,432 pixels? How many do you think are working for you when you're demonstrating Calc.exe? Let's just say < 786,432, eh? Put ZoomIn in your QuickLaunch or setup WINDOWS-Z with WinKey to launch it.
  • DOS is Good Green: Set a Command Prompt (VS.NET Command Prompt) to a black background with Kermit-green lettering that is Lucida Console 18pt.  This is scientifically (sez me) THE most visible size and color combo for prompts when presenting. Feel free to use yellow on blue in the privacy of your own bedroom, but throw me and your audience a bone and have one prepared that's, *ahem*, presentable.
  • BigFonty To the Rescue: Have a user already setup (Andrew says don't present as Admin!) that has all their fonts set large. I call mine "BigFonty" - It was either that or "The Full Fonty." That way there's no prep time, you just log in as your Presentation Guy and you're good.
  • Maintain the Illusion: I'm sure it's lovely that you're using VMWare or VirtualPC or even Wine, but please know that your audience doesn't care. Unless you're demonstrating SQL Server clustering fail over by running two VMs, I don't care.  So, don't run your Host PC in 1024x768 and your VPC at 800x600!  Your VirtualPC should follow the SAME rules as your Host. That means, see the rules above! Big fonts, ZoomIn, etc. Most importantly, switch your VPC to FullScreen at the same resolution as your host. Maintain the Illusion. Your audience will thank you.
  • Know Where Stuff Is: For Pete's sake, know your own machine.  Don't go hunting for that file, you should have had that file (or a link) in your presentation folder.  I've got a lot of Shortcuts and or "Junction Points" set up so everything can be found for each talk.
    • Tangent: Down with Subst! A LOT of people don't know you can have Junction Points/Reparse Points/Hard Links on NTFS! It's always been there.  Start thinking about using them to make your builds respect relative paths. Don't make all your developers uses Subst.exe! It's 2004! Down with Subst! I don't want your freakin' S: drive!

These are just a few thoughts I've had after a years of making mistakes. I've taken a number of Presentation Skills classes, but they don't teach you how not to bore or insult your audience. Remember, if you give a crappy small font presentation with tiny dialogs - you LOSE the right to complain about other people's talks.

About Scott

Scott Hanselman is a former professor, former Chief Architect in finance, now speaker, consultant, father, diabetic, and Microsoft employee. He is a failed stand-up comic, a cornrower, and a book author.

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Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in any way.