One of the things researcher should think about, whether they like it or not, is slide design.
Showing your results is an important part of the research, because its the point you justify the budget invested. Obviously, there is no need of slides when you got a remote on IIS 6, but for those of us who are mortals (a.k.a non-sinans) we need to show pretty things and make people happy.
This not only apply for business meeting but most important for conferences.
How many times you spent looking at lousy slides, full of bullet points that are in the middle between a paper and presentation slides. The true is, as Dave says, you have two types of public: the one in the conference and the people that will download the slides later.
But even if you have to keep in mind the online public, why not making your slides pretty?
I have been researching about the best way to improve my slides, for the keynote i'm presenting at H2HC in November.
And here are some tips I have been collecting.
Is not about the software
I have always thought that openoffice was ugly, and it actually is. But that doesn't mean you can make a wonderful presentation with it. Just avoid using their feature as much as possible. And if you have to do boxes, try to make them different as their are supposed to (drop the line, add transparency, shadow, use non-default color, etc).
DROP THE BULLETPOINT, USE IMAGES
This is probably the best advice I can give. You presentation gets on a completely new level when you start adding images. Either if you use them as background or as an accessory, you need to get good resolution image. Let me repeat this again because is important, GOOD RESOLUTION. Don't accept anything less than 1024x768.
If you can afford them, get them from www.istockphoto.com
If you are poor Argentinian, you can get a lot of amazing images from flickr.com, the "advance search" allow you to search only for Creative Commons-licensed content.
Use the rule of third.
I did a couple of photography's courses in the past and one of the most important lesson I got on composition was the famous rule of third. Basically you need to draw insivible lines dividing your photo vertically and horizontally in 3 parts, leaving 9 squares.
The points where the invisible lines cross each other, are the aureal points, which are the places where the viewer puts more emphasis when looking at a picture. A simple arrangement of the content can improve you slide a lot.
Your slide need to be balanced. If you put all the attention on one side of your slide, there has to be text or image in the other side that can help the viewer keep their attention in the center of the image.
Try to avoid as much text as possible. Only use phrases that help you with your statement. Slides are usually there to support your presentation rather than repeat what you have said.
Slides take tremendous amount of work that you might not be able to invest, but if you do it, you won't regret it. But no matter how pretty you made your slides, at the end, it's always about the speaker.
PS: For those of us who can read spanish, the axolotl magazine has publish Cari's work on Heian's poetry.