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A dozen challenges for presenters

March 19, 2014

pzenA few years ago I developed a workshop based on Garr Reynolds’ book, Presentation Zen. One of my handouts is a set of challenges aimed at helping faculty break the “Death by PowerPoint” mold. I presented the session yesterday and decided to share part of it here. The ideas are intended as goals, not absolute rules.

  1. Focus on one thing – concentrate on your learning goals – what you want students to remember most.
  2. Tell a story – it can provide added meaning and give context. There’s nothing like a good metaphor! See Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate.
  3. Don’t hand out slides – students should be following you, not a piece of paper. Use handouts for details and extras.
  4. Embrace the space – don’t crowd the screen. Surround objects with empty space to group them or make them stand out. There’s a popular design text called White Space is not Your Enemy.
  5. One concept per slide – make one point at a time.
  6. Six words per slide – reduce cognitive load by limiting text on the screen. This will help students concentrate on the words you are saying.
  7. Drop the bullets – get away from lists. People may like them in blog posts, but they get old quickly in presentations.
  8. Use images – they can convey so much! Use the highest quality you can find. Try FlickrPixabay , and stock.exchg for starters.
  9. Keep charts simple – minimal data points and no special effects. Read  this on Powerpoint numeracy or see what Reynolds says about Signal vs. Noise.
  10. Move away from the podium – use a remote and mingle in the crowd. I like to use the Keynote Remote and present from an iPad.
  11. Keep the lights on – let the students see you and their notes.
  12. Never go over time – respect your students’ other time commitments and leave them wanting more.

I try to follow the principles closely when facilitating the workshop. The slides (below) provide a sense of how that plays out. You can also download the full handout of challenges at Scribd.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. kbv7001 permalink
    March 27, 2014 5:59 pm

    Reblogged this on technologylearning and commented:
    Presentation Zen, yes, has to be a good thing 😉


  1. Presentation Zen rubric | NspireD2: Learning Technology in Higher Ed.
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