Presentation Terms for Beginners

Every industry has a lingo. Whether you’re an engineer or a
firefighter, verbal shortcuts, acronyms and slang pepper our
workdays. The graphics world is no exception. Here are a
few terms you might hear while working with a graphic artist
or a program producer on your PowerPoint presentation.

Aliasing:

This technical term is also referred to as “stair-stepping” or
“jaggies.” It can occur on the rounded edges of lettering or
placed objects, particularly those with diagonal lines.

Aspect Ratio:

The area of your projected or viewed image. Referred to as
a width-by-height ratio such as 4:3 or 16:9. A standard US
video monitor is 4:3, widescreen is 16:9. These ratios
translate into pixel dimensions, which then translate into
inches when setting up your presentation document.

Banding:

On graphics saved with less than one million colors, large
areas of color may become defined as colored sections
rather than one continuous field. A photographic sky may
split into light blue, medium blue and dark blue, for
example.

B-A-T:

B-A-T stands for Big (Blank) Text. The “A” is interchangeable
with a few different words, so we’ll leave the most common
three-lettered one up to your imagination!

The B-A-T slide is simply a slide with a few words or
perhaps a short quotation in big, bold text. It could be a
“chapter” header like “Economics” or “Summary.” There is a
current trend to use more B-A-Ts than bulleted slides. Many
communications experts believe these types of slides have
more impact and retention potential on the audience.

Build:

The presentation process of starting with a title or headline,
then introducing other elements to the slide such as bullet
points, artwork or photographs.

Bullets or Readers:

The standard bullet point slide is more simply referred to as
a bullet or bullets. Older graphic artists and producers,
particularly those with backgrounds in video production, may
refer to bulleted slides as “readers.” This term comes from
the use of a device called a character generator (CG) that
“reads” text over a camera shot or background artwork.

Bump:

Making the type size, charts or other objects bigger to
improve readability.

Deck:

A common alternative term for a presentation.

Foils:

Another term for slides, often used by European
presenters.

MTL or Cover:

MTL stands for Meeting Theme Logo. The MTL is typically
your first and last slide in a presentation. It may have your
corporate logo, the name of your presentation, artwork that
matches your conference or meeting signage, or a
combination of all of these things. The MTL may be part of
an opening loop of material as the audience arrives in the
staging area.

The MTL may also be referred to as a “cover” within the
presentation, and appear as two presenters hand off to
each other or any other place where there is a change in the
show flow.

On shows using cameras for image magnification (I-Mag),
the video director will usually freeze an image of the MTL to
use onscreen when there is not a suitable camera angle.

Points and Picas:

These two “P” words all have to do with sizing. Points and
Picas refer to the height of lettering. You may hear an artist
discuss an increase in “point size” to make a slide more
readable to the audience.

Pica (pie-kah) is a printing term and heard less often. It may
come up if creating handouts is part of the presentation job,
but most artists stick with points these days.

Pixels:

As many digital photographers already know, Pixels are the
tiny squares making up your presentation. Creating a
presentation for 16×9 widescreen monitors will require your
artist to translate pixel dimensions into inches in the
PowerPoint page setup.

Pings:
With the newer versions of PowerPoint,
ping
(.png) files are supported. Graphic artists may use pings for
placing logos or other special artwork into the presentation
because they include a transparency channel allowing the
artwork to “float” over the background.

Power Prompt:

In some lower budget productions, a second computer may
use PowerPoint as a makeshift TelePrompTer. The
operator will create high-contrast slides – bright yellow
letters over black for example – and enter large bulleted
points to keep the presenter on track with key points.

The second computer is wired to a video monitor that only
the presenter can see.

Rollout:
Spoken more often by producers, the
rollout
is any plan for distributing your presentation to audience
members or other interested parties after your show is
completed. It could be via e-mail, duplicated CDs, print or
many other electronic methods.

Safe Action and Safe Title Areas:
These are
technical video terms and refer to the area within
10% and 20% of your screen edges, respectively. It is a
safety measure to ensure your graphics will not be cutoff on
any edge due to a poorly adjusted video monitor. Not as
applicable when using projection, although scrims and
drapes may block portions of the full image.

Walk-In Look:

This may be as simple as your MTL, or it could be
something more complex like an animated, timed loop of
moving art and images. The walk-in look is what your
audience will see while being seated prior to your
presentation.

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