I did a talk today for a paper and graphics industry group– it’s why I’m in Denver for the day– and the process has made me figure out that doing a conceptual, high-level Power Point, and doing it early, has lots of advantages over the “outline-of-my-talk-with-graphics” style.

First, it will give you something to send to the conference organizers, who are always keen to have copies of your talk earlier than you want to send them. But it will buy you several other things besides the goodwill of your hosts (or perhaps amusement at their confusion).

It’ll give you flexibility to revise the talk substantially, up to the last minute. Since this is something I always do, anyway, it allows me to just concentrate on the ideas and argument, and not have to worry about making corresponding changes in the slides.

It’ll prevent you from just reading the slides, which is the kiss of death for any presentation. The problem with putting words on a slide is that if you care about what you say, you’ll put some attention into the phrasing of the slides– which will only make reading them seem more sensible. But it’s dull to hear. If you’ve got a more conceptual presentation, in contrast, you have to be more conversational, even if you spend 48 hours rehearsing every last line.