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Creating Great Slides [and Diversity Speaker Outreach]

We are keeping track of how many WP groups run the workshops this year. If you're planning on running it, please either let us know here or message @jillbinder on Slack.  

Meetup Description

[If you are presenting this to a specific group, such as people who identify as women, optional sections to add are indicated in [square brackets].]

This is a workshop for {specific group} {or: folks} who are thinking about speaking at WordPress events, such as WordPress Meetup and WordCamp. Learn how to make excellent slides for your next presentation and how to avoid the most common pitfalls when creating a slide deck – from lack of contrast, to text that's too small, to writing out every single thing you plan to say out loud. By the end of this session, you'll be inspired to jump in and get started on your next set of slides!

***You do NOT have to have any experience in public speaking. This workshop is for all levels of experience.

This workshop is for you if:

  • [You identify as {specific group}]
  • You haven't created slides or want to get better at them

This workshop is NOT for you if:

  • [You identify as {not this specific group}]
  • [You don’t think it matters that there are very few {specific group} speakers at WordPress events]


  • Creating good slide decks


  • This venue should have [elevators, ramps, etc.], [single stall washrooms for non-binary genders], [etc.].
  • Please do not  wear scents. Many people are allergic to them.

Prerequisite Skills

  • Knowledge of how to use at least one piece of software for creating a slide presentation would be helpful but is not necessary.


  • Students will recognize common pitfalls to avoid when creating a slide presentation
  • Students will understand the principles of good slides design
  • Students will access resources for more advanced exploration of slide design


  • Handouts (link to Google doc) (You may download and edit as needed.)
  • Slides (link to Google doc) (All of the Speaker Training lessons are included. You can start at the top and when you get to a “Which section are you running next?” slide, choose the next lesson you are doing this day. You will definitely want to download and make some edits as there are some instructions for you in the slides themselves.)
  • Slides (included in this repo)

Screening Questions

  • Would you be you comfortable using software to create a slide presentation?

Teacher Notes

This section repeats from the Teacher Notes in Lesson 1. It's very important. Please read it.


You can optionally start with the first material from Speaker lesson 1, “Finding Your Topic.” If you ran lesson 1 already, start here. If you did not, you can grab sections from “toilet” to “Talk Formats” from lesson 1, “Finding Your Topic.” if you wish.

Good Slide Decks

Let's first start with a Public Service Announcement. You do not need slides with every talk. Some talks can stand on their own.

Slides can be your friend and your enemy – so, don't rely on them completely. Something to ask yourself: if the slide projector were to break down, could you give your talk without it?

That said, when used correctly, slides are amazing and can bring a lot to your talk.

Used in the right way, slides emphasize and help you get your points across.

Let's look at some tips for creating good slide decks.

Give your slides a theme. It could be that you illustrate all your points with lolcats, or that they all use the same background and typography. Whatever it is, having a visually unified deck makes all the difference.

Many speakers end up with a look to their slides that they stick with from presentation to presentation This is great and makes their talks stand out and feel part of a cohesive set. It may not be the route you want to go, but it's something to consider.

Don’t use a default slideshow theme, like the templates that come with Keynote or Powerpoint. We've all seen them a thousand times, and they look generic and boring.

(Say this one exactly as below to emphasize the point)

Don't write out what you are going to be saying. This can be a flexible rule for useful, important quotes but nobody likes someone reading lines from a slide.

Make your text size readable. Think of the person sitting at the back of the room.

Use code sparingly. Nobody likes pages and pages of code on a screen. Not even developers can stay awake through that!

Include a slide at the end of your deck to thank your audience. You can also use a closing slide to remind you to do your Q&A.

Enhance the mood of your talk with slides. Use them to add humor and to help get your point across.

Check the copyright on your images. If you're using a Creative Commons graphic, remember to give proper attribution to its creator.

Consider sketching something original, creating your own images, or using your own photography. Make it personal and unique.

Slides don't need images. You can just have words.

Check your contrast on a range of screens to make sure it'll be legible.

Also consider your choice of color. You can check color contrast using an online tool to be sure it'll be easily readable - you just plug in your background and foreground color codes and the tool will tell you if it's in the acceptable range.

Take care when selecting fonts. Don’t use a fancy font that's cute but unreadable – and don't use too many different fonts together.

Make sure you're creating your slides for the right screen size. Try to find out in advance what aspect ratio the projector will have. Stay away from edges of the screen to be safe, keeping key information out of those areas. Now let's look at a few examples from real slide decks.

This is a good example of a slide that sets the mood of the whole presentation. The deck supports the presentation and acts not just as useful information, but as a backdrop, to help create a cohesive talk.

This is a deck that stands on its own, either with or without the verbal part of the presentation. It carries a theme throughout the slides and delivers the message with clarity. It also demonstrates a strong personality, something you shouldn’t shy away from with your deck.

This deck has strong sense of design. It clearly delivers the message of an expansive subject area. Slides are used to break down this complexity, and it's all done with a clear vision and a deck that stands on its own, apart from the talk. You'll find a collection of more tips on creating great slides - and other resources - at There are links to contrast calculators and examples of inspirational slide decks that you can explore at your leisure.

More Tips

What software should you use to create your slides? You can use a dedicated presentation software like Keynote or Powerpoint, or try Google Apps' Slides tool. Some people prefer a HTML/JavaScript slideshow like reveal.js, which you can upload to the web. Going this route can make your slides more easily indexed by search engines.

Practice going through your deck using an external monitor, using a presentation mode which lets you see your notes. Think about bringing your notes printed out on paper in case the presentation setup doesn't end up allowing you to see your internal notes.

Bring a backup of your slides with you on a thumb drive, including any special fonts you've used. Save the presentation in a few different formats, including PDF. If for some reason there's any issue with your computer, you'll be able to easily borrow someone else's and ensure that your type looks as you intended.

Upload your slides before your talk if possible, and include a link to them at the end of your slides. Slideshare and SpeakerDeck are two good services where you can upload slides. Remember to tweet out the link afterwards and send it to the event organizers so they can post it.

If you start to do more speaking, invest in a presentation clicker to advance your slides without having to use a keyboard or mouse. It'll let you stand away from your laptop and keep your hands in a more natural position while you speak.

Live Demos

It can be very tempting to do a live demo and hop back and forth between your demo and the slides. This can be hard to watch, especially if something goes wrong during the demo, as it often does. Consider recording these bits instead and embedding the videos within your presentation.  

Sign Up

Do this conclusion once per workshop lessons meetup

Thank you for attending today. We will be passing a sign up sheet (or you will receive an email). If you are interested in speaking at an event,  please sign up to let us know. This is not a commitment, but we will get in touch with you to discuss the possibility of speaking at an upcoming meetup or WordCamp.


This is a workshop for people who are thinking about speaking at WordPress events, such as WordPress Meetups and WordCamps.








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