Peter Smith emailed me to tell me that he has written a simpler, getting-started guide to using beamer.cls — the LaTeX presentation programme I have raved about here. Peter's guide is really excellent, and much less intimidating than the huge (though very informative) manual that comes with beamer. If you've been meaning to play with beamer, but didn't quite know where to start, give the Simple Beamer guide a read.
It also contains a fantastic quote attributed to the philosopher Stephanie Lewis, and apparently stage-whispered during someone else's presentation:
Power corrupts: PowerPoint corrupts absolutely.
Peter advocates making transparencies with beamer rather than showing the presentation with a data projector. I do sympathise with his reasons (the most compelling of which is that you can waste oodles of time tinkering with colour schemes and so on), but I now always make projected presentations rather than transparencies for three main reasons:
- Transparencies are actually quite expensive, and become even more costly when you manage to make a hash of printing them, or find a typo.
- I'm always altering my presentation right up until the last moment. Often, those last-minute edits improve it greatly. Yes, I should probably be more organised, but sometimes you need the adrenaline rush to think about what you really want to say.
- I almost always show at least one movie in my lectures and presentations. Movies don't work well unless you flip the transparencies really fast.