Last year I wrote about LaTeX/Beamer and how it was worse than bad PowerPoint. One or two weeks ago I found a presentation on Slideshare done in Beamer, by people I know. They are excellent scientists at Germany's best research center. It is partly not their fault, they are applied mathematicians, and in mathematics LaTeX and, to a lesser degree Beamer, are industry standards.
The problem of using Beamer for scientific talks is that it employs the same narrative of a written essay: Title, introduction, first section, second subsection, conclusion. Another problem is that Beamer enforces the use of off-the-shelf templates, and the command-line nature of Beamer makes its customization very time consuming. The use of predefined templates one of the causes of the death by PowerPoint. The creation of a math talk using Beamer is a soporific bomb.
To show what I mean, I extracted the layout of 4 slides of the presentation I found on Slideshare. I know that designing engaging visuals for the mathematical sciences is difficult. Not only is math hard to visualize, but the use of equations and mathematical symbols (which is a just) can easily obscure a talk's slides.
First, the title slide:
Problem 2. Another problem here is that the name of the authors and their affiliation is written twice (what for?), one in the title part and one on the bottom left and bottom center-right as part of the "status bar".
Problem 3. No sense of design. The big dot and the little white square are the institution's logos, observe how they completely disconnected. The text on the top containing the name, place and date of the conference is floating. All in all, the objects are randomly thrown into the page, with no hierarchy, alignment or proximity.
Now let's go into the content:
Problem 2. Not only the top and bottom bars are distracting, there is a second top bar with the title of the slide, and to the very right, the dot is (again) their logo. All of this courtesy of a template...
Problem 3. Beamer offers a "boxes" that are supposed to create focus by containing important information. Well if this is so, why let the important information compete with the item on the bottom?
Next, the monster slide:
I'll finish with their last conclusions and thank-you-for-your-attention slide:
So that's why I hate Beamer, because it doesn't foster creativity, forces to think inside-the-box, and ultimately I can only do visuals of the past. But, if you think there is no other way to make visuals for a math talk, click here, it might help you get some inspiration.