When you connect your computer to the projector before starting a presentation, what does your audience see first? Do they see a neat and tidy computer desktop with a regular wallpaper? Do they see a cluttered desktop with a lot of icons on top of your two year old niece’s selife?

It is commonly accepted that we only have one chance of making a good first impression. When we walk up to the stage, even before start speaking, our audience will be evaluating everything there is to us. And when we connect our computer and our desktop is displayed on the screen, it will be only natural for the audience members to scan who resides on our desktops. It may not be the right thing to do, but we all do it anyway. Even worse, we may end up revealing some confidental information if we have on our desktop file names that include our other clients.

To start with, take a look at the two desktop views below:

Which of these desktop views you think would give a more professional impression? Probably the tidy one, right? Here are two quick tips to achieve this look if are running into a last minute presentation with your niece’s photo on your cluttered computer screen.

  1. Change your desktop wallpaper to a subtle color or texture. Both Windows, Mac and Linux systems come with such graphics. Refer to the end of this article for downloadable goodies.
  2. It is possible that your items on your desktop are there for a reason, such as quick access. Before your presentation, create a folder on your desktop and call it “Desktop Items”. Now select all the other icons on your desktop except system icons and program shortcuts, and drag them (move, not copy) into this new folder. This way, you will end up with a tidy desktop with only one folder icon. If you have too many program shortcuts on your desktop, consider creating a new folder called “Programs” and moving those shortcut icons there.

Remember that, in presentation world, there are many things we can utilize to differentiate us from the rest and make us look more professional. Having a clean and tidy desktop is one way of making a good first impression.

Here are some sample wallpapers that you can download and use on your computer. Make sure to choose the “Stretch” option after you select these images as your future wallpapers. This will expand the image over your entire desktop and make it look neat.

About Alper Rozanes

Alper graduated from Baruch College in New York with a degree in management information systems. He loves to cook (his specialty is oven-baked honey mustard salmon). Among his other hobbies are tennis, bowling, and jumping from known flying objects at 10.000 feet.