6 Quick Tips for Presenting Code in Visual Studio

As a frequent conference presenter and attendee, I often see live code walk-throughs. There are a variety of tweaks you can make to optimize the Visual Studio experience for presenting code to others. It’s important to minimize visual distractions, size text properly, and practice your demo in a low resolution.

To that end, here’s 5 quick tips for presenting in Visual Studio.

1. Run Full Screen

Hit Alt+Shift+Enter to toggle full screen mode. This hides the Windows taskbar, title bar, and many items in the Visual Studio UI such as Solution Explorer. This is especially helpful when presenting on low resolution projectors. As a side-note, this mode is also useful for daily use since it helps avoid distractions while coding by hiding all other OS elements.

2. Configure Full Screen Mode

Visual Studio full screen mode hides all explorer windows by default. You may decide to show certain items to assist with the demo. Simply re-enable displaying selected portions of the UI while in Full Screen mode and Visual Studio will keep track of your separate full screen settings. So once you select UI elements you’d like to display in this mode, it will remember from now on. Handy. (also, remember you can open files by hitting Ctrl+, and typing the name, so you likely don’t need to display the Solution Explorer).

3. Enable Presenter Mode

Presenter Mode is a simple feature in Productivity Power Tools. Once you’ve installed this extension, all you have to do is hit Ctrl+Q to place the cursor in the quick launch input, then type the word present. Select Present On/Present Off to toggle. You’ll find font sizes throughout the UI are increased.

Enable Visual Studio Presentation Mode via Quick Launch

Enable Visual Studio Presentation Mode via Quick Launch

4. Resize Further as Needed

In larger rooms with smaller projection screens, it may still be difficult for people in the back to read code, even with presenter mode enabled. In this case you can increase the font size of individual files by holding Ctrl and scrolling or via the zoom dropdown in the bottom left-hand corner of Visual Studio. When using the above techniques, this is rarely necessary, which is good because this setting doesn’t “stick” between files. If you need a more global solution, you can increase DPI scaling in Windows, though you may notice sizing quirks in any apps that haven’t been updated to support DPI scaling.

5. Zoom it

Zoom It is a free tool that allows you to zoom in and annotate specific portions of the screen. Simply hit Ctrl+1 to zoom in on a specific portion of the screen. This can help draw attention to an area and is also useful when a piece of UI outside of Visual Studio can’t be scaled by other means. I’ve even seen some presenters utilize Zoom It throughout an entire presentation, though I find this a bit disorienting.

6. Use the Light Theme

The standard light theme of dark text on a white background is typically easiest to read on projectors. The lower contrast alternatives look great on a nice LCD, but often lack sufficient contrast for projector use. (Credit to @craigber)

Bonus tip

You can consider simply creating multiple Visual Studio settings files and switching between them as desired.

Have other tips for presenting code? Please chime in below.

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4 thoughts on “6 Quick Tips for Presenting Code in Visual Studio

  1. 1. Put the fonts up to something reasonable to read at the back of the room (14pt? 16,18, 20pt?)
    2. Before the presentation, check what it will look like from the back of the room. What will your attendees be seeing?
    3. Create a whole new user on your OS (Windows/Mac) with everything configured for presenting. Notifications off. Fonts set, etc.

  2. Layouts-O-Rama is a nice nuget package for creating/managing multiple layouts for Visual Studio. Might come in handy as well so I wanted to share it.