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PASS Summit Speaker Presentation Template Updates

By Meagan Longoria and Chris Yates

As you may have already noticed, the speaker presentation template looks a bit different this year. To shed light on how the template was created, the talented Meagan Longoria, PASS HQ, and myself are taking some time to give you a behind the scenes look.

Last PASS Summit, I had the privilege of talking with many of you on a myriad of topics; one of the more intriguing ones was the conversation I had with Meagan. Our discussions focused on the speaker templates currently being used and what can be done to improve them. She has a lot of great content on her blog and one specific post that ties into what we are discussing today can be found here

I admit, as a speaker myself, I had not considered some of the things Meagan mentioned. In reading through her blog post I agreed with a lot of the statements including the introductory statement of "It’s hard to please everyone, especially when everyone means several dozen speakers and thousands of audience members at a tech conference. And especially when it comes to presentations to an international audience. So I get that it can be difficult to make a presentation template that stays on brand and promotes the best presentation of information."

Several notes were taken from that meeting and we embarked on a partnership effort with all parties – PASS HQ, Board member, and Community member – to improve our template.

To date, we have started to see suggestions by Meagan implemented into the speaker template for this year. Some highlights can be found below:

  1. Color contrast has been improved. All text in the template has a color contrast of at least 3:1, and most of the text has contrast of at least 4.5:1. This makes slides easier to read and often more visually appealing.
  2. Body text font size is set to 24pt and unlike last year, doesn't suggest that you have multiple levels of text on a slide. Audiences this year will hopefully see fewer slides containing a wall of text that is too small to read.
  3. The template avoids using color combinations that are difficult to differentiate for those with color vision deficiency. While a darker red is used, it is not used in combination with green. Colors are limited in the palette to keep the slides simple and clear, and the slides were checked with a colorblindness simulator. 
  4. There are no built-in transitions or animations, which can be distracting or bothersome for people when not used appropriately.

When you walk into a room at PASS Summit, we want you to be able to easily read the title and speaker name to confirm you are in the right room. We want you to be able to read the speaker’s contact and social media information so you can connect with them and continue learning from them after the session. Presentation templates should be designed to account for attendees’ varying abilities to see, hear, and understand the presentations. We can’t make something that works for every single person, but we can try to make something that works well for as many people as possible.

Accessibility is something many speakers and conference organizers are not educated on, unless they specifically sought out information on this topic. Setting a more accessible default in the presentation template takes a few baby steps towards a more inclusive PASS Summit conference.

Is it perfect? No. Does this mean we are done making improvements? No.

As with anything, there is always room for improvement, and we need to continue to build on these positive changes. It has been an honor and privilege to work with all sides in getting positive traction in place and together we can continue to improve.

We > Me

Terence O'Shea
About the author

PASS is a not-for-profit organization run by and for a diverse community. PASS supports data professionals throughout the world who use the Microsoft data platform. PASS’ mission is to Empower data professionals who leverage Microsoft technologies to connect, share, and learn through networking, knowledge sharing, and peer-based learning.

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