Devoxx and the Sane Conference Template

Devoxx asked the authors to help make their conference template better

A common fixture of conferences is the obligatory template sent to all speakers, with the suggestion that it form the base of each presentation. The intent is good, particularly if the default speaker is someone who has no experience creating an attractive template. At least by providing a common starting point, the organizer can rely on useful font sizes and reasonable color schemes. And, as a bonus, all the talks at a particular conference share the same look. Good for the conference, but less so for the speaker, especially experienced speakers who have expended energy creating their own distinctive theme.

In the Presentation Patterns book, we rail against one of the common sins of conference templates, Floodmarks. The origin of the name evokes a water mark pushed to the extreme; decoration in the background that threatens to subsume the main message. We include any slide “furniture”, elements that appear on every slide, like horizontal lines or company logos, as a Floodmark. When a title line is needed, it looks good, but it looks terrible when the full-slide image partially covers it, leaving an embarrassing dangling part hanging out.

In November, Neal is debuting a keynote at Devoxx, a large developer’s conference in Antwerp, called When Geek Leaks, about the intersection of geeks (like Neal) and the real world, which includes a large section about the Presentation Patterns book, which exemplifies the theme. The conference organizer, Stephan, knows this and about the book, which the three authors have been telling him about for several years.

Before sending the conference template to this year’s speakers, Stephan sent a copy to Neal to get feedback about how to make it better. It was already pretty good, but Neal gave him some suggestions, such as the inclusion of a blank slide and a code slide with an image placeholder rather than text. He took the advice and included the feedback into the template.

We’re flattered that he asked and appreciative that a conference organizer goes to such effort to ensure that the event is as good as possible.

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