Highlighting code in presentations

Before I started using this method, I always struggled with ways to highlight parts of code I wanted to talk about when giving presentations. This method, I’ve found, is at once the easiest method to use, and provides context to the viewer. They can easily follow along, and where the code is in relation to other code you are talking about is made apparent.

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A picture is worth a thousand words, and this one should show clearly how to highlight lines of code on a slide. You just add two shapes, and set the opacity to such a level that code can still be viewed, but it’s dimmed out.

You can also generate nice transitions between highlights of the same code using Magic Move as your transition.

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The result is a fairly simple transition as you highlight specific lines of code.

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This works with code that cannot fit on your slide as well. Simple add the code to your slide, and allow it to go beyond the edge of your slide. When you want to highlight code that is partially hidden, simply move the text box up.

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Other presentation software can do this using their own similar features.

10 Simple Things to Improve Your Tech Talks

  1. Practice your talk before speaking. Several times. Record yourself. Watch it. At a conference, people paid $$$ for this.
  2. Assume wifi is unavailable for your talk. Don’t depend on it to run demos.
  3. Assume you’ll get few or no questions. Given a 45 minute slot? Aim for 40 minutes.
  4. If you insist on live coding, make sure you’ve written down the code ahead of time. We don’t want to watch you debug in real time.
  5. If your talk title says it’s about X, don’t make the first quarter/half not talking about X. We probably came to listen to you talk about X, not your life story. Exceptions exist, but do so carefully.
  6. Waiting for audience participation is awkward. “Can anyone see what’s wrong?” Just move on.
  7. The best slides are ones that are useful after the talk. You can export with speaker notes! Have speaker notes!
  8. Be professional. Know how your computer works. How the presentation software works. Show up ahead of time, make sure tech is ready.
  9. Don’t save your talk for a big conference. Run through it at a user group or meetup. Adjust. Improve. Repeat.
  10. You can’t please everyone. Present for a target audience. Title and description should aim to entice that target audience.