Creating Presentations That Don’t Suck

We have all been stuck in slide show presentations that were stale and boring. I mean, it seemed at times that they were engineered to confound the mind. Well, research confirm what we felt; slide shows can interfere with learning.

Imagine a widely used and expensive prescription drug that promised to make us beautiful but didn’t. Instead the drug had frequent, serious side effects: It induced stupidity, turned everyone into bores, wasted time, and degraded the quality and credibility of communication. These side effects would rightly lead to a worldwide product recall.

Taken from WIRED; PowerPoint Is Evil. Power Corrupts. PowerPoint Corrupts Absolutely. By Edward Tufte

Pre-session Survey

  • Ask me a question with Google Forms
    • What would you like to learn from this workshop?

TPEP (Danielson format) Survey (Optional)

Post-session Survey

Who, What, Why, And How (15 min.)

  • What do you want? (2 min.)
    • Ask Scott questions with Google Forms
      • What would you like to learn from this workshop?

Why? (15 min.)

What? (13 min.)

How? – The Planning Stage (The Paper Part) (30 min.)

  • Brainstorm Ideas (Right Brain) (10 min.)
    • Mind map on paper
    • FreeMind on computer
    • Ideas to jump start idea generation
    • “F” Words – Family, Food, Fun, Friends, Fondness, Fundamentals, Frequency, Foundation, Faith, etc.
    • Want to hook into each audience member at least once
  • Draft Paper Story Board (Left Brain) (10 min.)
    • Steve Jobs Presentation Secrets and Work flow
    • Create a paper draft layout or mock-up of the your slides
      • Folder a piece of paper so there are 16 sections, use each one to draw a draft of the slide
      • Write the actual words that will appear on each slide or write which picture will appear on the slide, example: PICT OF CAT
        • The goal is to have hooks represented as images or text about you that will help you connect with your audience
    • Story board resources
  • Pitch The Storyboard (10 min.)
    • Use the paperwork and pitch the flow of the presentation to others
      • This will act as practice for both the content and delivery
    • 1 to 20 rule
      • Every minute of presentation time require 20 minutes of preparation time

Break Time (10 Min.)

How – The Building Stage (The Technology Part) (45 min.)

How – The Presentation Stage (Stand and Deliver) (45 min.)

Scott’s Presentation Slam Teams Resources for The Classroom

Ouch You’re Hurting My Brain

Let’s look at our audience. A good presenter should know their audience. Last time I noticed, I was presenting to humans. John Sweller’s Cognitive Load Theory details the limitations of the human mind to hold discrete pieces of information in short-term memory. Explore more of John Sweller’s take on PowerPoint and it’s limitations in the post, Is it finally time to ditch PowerPoint? It is a must read. Supposedly, phone numbers are only 7 digits long because the mind can only hold seven pieces of information in short term memory, plus or minus two numbers depending on other variables according to George A. Miller . There are strategies like “Chunking“, an idea that we can more efficiently use short-term memory, but in general we are limited by what we can absorb in a short period of time. Something to consider when presenting to homo sapiens.

Limitation By Design

I know when I started working with PowerPoint I was excited to build beautiful templates and have all kinds of cool effects happen during slide transitions. Getting the ornate 3D charts and graphs to represent my data seemed like the thing to do. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out this wizardry just to find out that it actually distracts from my presentation’s message. The templates are worse for your presentation than starting with a simple plain layout.

Stand and Deliver

Forgive me, I have sinned. I used to “talk to my slides” during presentation. Reading them word for word is the ultimate way to kill your audience’s interest in your topic. How we interact with the information on the screen can either add or detract from the colors, fonts and images in the slides. Kathy Sierra details great advice and cites resources to improve presentations in her blog entry; Stop your presentation before it kills again!Something else to consider, we are emotional creatures. Use this in your presentation. Seth Godin comments in his post, Really Bad PowerPoint supports this; no emotion, no connection.

The “Do My Slides Suck” Test from Kathy Sierra

  1. Do your slides contain mostly bullet points?
  2. Do you have more than 12-15 words on a slide?
  3. Do your slides add little or no new info beyond what you can say in words?
  4. Are your slides, in fact, not memorable?
  5. Are your slides emotionally empty?
  6. Do your slides fail to encourage a deeper connection to or understanding of the topic?
  7. Do your slides distort the data? (That’s a whooooole different thing I’m not addressing now)
  8. Do your slides encourage cognitive weakness? (refer to Tufte)

Learn From The Best

Some of the best presenters are Lawrence Lessig, Guy Kawasaki, Seth Godin, and Dick Hardt. Examine their approaches.

Example Presentations

The Tools

Published by scottleduc

I am the Educational Ninja!

One thought on “Creating Presentations That Don’t Suck

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