At the November 2019 Chicago Digital Accessibility and Inclusive Design meetup last night, Fen Slattery highlighted steps you can take to give an accessible, inclusive presentation.
Slattery shared advice and tips about:
- What to think about as you plan your talk
- How to prepare readable slides
- Using words and phrases that aren’t harmful
- Structuring your presentation
- Logistics for the day of your talk
- Giving your talk
- Getting feedback
I wasn’t able to catch the talk in person, since I was hosting our West Metro Detroit WordPress November 2019 meetup at the same time.
Thanks to the livestream recording, I watched the presentation later last night.
As an event organizer and presenter for over 10 years, I picked up several new tips from Slattery’s talk. Thank you Fen!
Are you looking for ways to create a more inclusive presentation? Check out my recap.
How to Deliver an Accessible and Inclusive Presentation
- As a presenter, think about why you’re giving a presentation. Your talk is not for you, it’s for your audience.
- Identify who your audience is. It goes beyond the people in the room. Could be people attending via livestream, watching recording, reading transcript, or reviewing your slides.
- As a speaker, what is your duty?
Fen’s philosophy about giving talks:
– Your duty is to inspire emotion first, and educate second
– People need to care about what you say, otherwise they won’t retain it or take notes or research it more later#A11YChi pic.twitter.com/76kLYbeHnz
— Accessibility Chicago (@A11YChi) November 20, 2019
- Questions to ask the host for your talk: is there a microphone, will there be live captioning, is there a code of conduct (CoC), are organizers/staff trained in CoC, what is being done to make space inclusive and safe?
- Keep in mind your audience members may not have a job, be married, be the same age, gender.
- You might refer to your wife/husband or kids as you share a story in your talk. Not everyone can relate to those stories. In other words, avoid making assumptions about your audience.
Planning Your Talk
- Use your talk description to structure your talk
- Create a clear structure in your talk. Consider what questions each section of your talk answers. And how each section relates to other sections.
- Provide an agenda or something similar at the beginning of the talk, so people know what to expect
- Be mindful of triggers. Warn of anything in your talk/slides that may cause a strong emotional feeling (anger or yelling). As well as upcoming video, animation, or loud noises.
- Mix up the content on your slides: include text, images, charts, etc. People learn differently, whether from viewing imagery or reading words.
- Create inclusive activities. Some people may not be able to stand up or raise their hands. Avoid shaming people who aren’t participating in an activity.
- If you’re providing handouts during your talk, make sure they’re accessible. Is text in a large font size? Provide a digital option for any handouts.
- Choose easy-to-read fonts. Can be serif or sands-serif. Avoid monospaced fonts. Does your font have good letter spacing?
- Make sure your slides have good color contrast. You have limited control over lighting in the room. What looks good on your laptop may display fuzzy and faded from a projector.
- Want to test your slides for color contrast before your talk? Turn down the brightness on your computer/laptop to check if slides can still be read.
- Ask host whether lights will be on or off in the presentation room. For dark rooms, consider using light text on a dark background. For rooms with a lot of light, consider dark text on a light background. Not sure of lighting in the room? Slattery recommends dark text on a light background.
- Avoid placing information on the edges of your slides, as well as bottom 20% (or so) of slides. (Remember the last time you couldn’t see the screen over someone’s head in the row in front of you?)
- Avoid communicating meaning only through color (example: coloring text in red to indicate something you’re not recommending). Include symbols and words.
- Including video in your slides? Make sure they’re captioned.
- Minimize the amount of text on your slide. You want people to read your slides.
- Add one complete thought per slide
Tips for the Day of Your Talk
- Check out the room. If it’s a conference, listen to someone giving a talk before you.
- Know where you can walk on the stage or front of room so people can see you
- Use a microphone, if available. Do a microphone test before your talk.
- Share your slides before your talk. Also, include link to your slides in your slides (at beginning of your talk)
It’s Time to Give Your Talk
- Learn about your audience. Adapt your talk and avoid making assumptions.
- People will leave your talk. Don’t take it personally.
- Concerned that people are paying more attention to their smartphone or laptop? Don’t be. They may be live tweeting or taking notes.
- Speak slowly. Speak clearly.
- Use plain language. Explain what abbreviations or acronyms mean on first use.
- Avoid ableism in your speaking: words like dumb, stupid, etc.
- Pause often. (My tip: take a drink of water.)
- Describe your visuals (as long as they’re not only decorative). Including a GIF on your slides? Describe it.
- Explain graphs and charts, what the key information is
- Like website design, avoid using spatial words in your presentation (example: this, that, here)
- Repeat audience questions in your microphone (if audience members don’t have a microphone)
- Whether you choose to ask the audience after you present, or use some other method, get healthy feedback
- Two of Slattery’s ways for getting feedback: did someone laugh? Did someone learn something?
The livestream for the event has been published on YouTube, but captions and transcript will be added later.
Photo credit: A11YChi.