Better Beamer Presentations

Guide to better Beamer presentations

Judging from the seminars and conference presentations I’ve seen in the last few years, Beamer has become the dominant app for creating slide decks. All things considered, I am very happy about this development. Nevertheless, there are several defects that I keep seeing in presentations. Hence, this guide.

  1. Get rid of the Navigation Symbols. They are ugly, distracting, and unnecessary. I cannot recall the last time I actually saw someone use them. here’s the code to put somewhere near the end of you preamble. \setbeamertemplate{navigation symbols}{}

  2. Consider using section/frame circles instead of just page numbers. Such commands help give the reader a sense of where the presentation is and where it has yet to go. They also help you keep track of whether you have time to do everything that’s left.

    Here are the commands for putting empty cirlces for each slide, organized by section.

    [p] \useoutertheme[footline=empty,subsection=false]{miniframes}
    [p] \useinnertheme{circles}

  3. Do not use begin{table} with \caption in your your slides that show a table. Instead use your \caption as your \frametitle. The reason is that \begin{table} displays the text “Table:” which is useless. More over the caption for the table is often just a replication of the \frametitle. Getting rid of it gives you more space for useful information.

  4. Avoid using “(contd)” in frame titles. In my view the frame title should map 1 to 1 to the content of the frame. Since each frame is unique, it usually makes sense to have unique frame titles. Try to take full advantage of the frame title in summarizing the content below. For example, suppose you have three slides for the theory. The first one shows the utlity function and budget constraint. The second one shows first order conditions and the last one shows second order conditions. Instead of Theory, Theory (cont’d), and Theory (cont’d), I would title the slides Theory: Setup, Theory: FOC, and Theory: SOC. These headings should be more useful to both the audience and the presenter.