A dozen challenges for presenters
A 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.
- Focus on one thing – concentrate on your learning goals – what you want students to remember most.
- Tell a story – it can provide added meaning and give context. There’s nothing like a good metaphor! See Nancy Duarte’s book, Resonate.
- Don’t hand out slides – students should be following you, not a piece of paper. Use handouts for details and extras.
- 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.
- One concept per slide – make one point at a time.
- Six words per slide – reduce cognitive load by limiting text on the screen. This will help students concentrate on the words you are saying.
- Drop the bullets – get away from lists. People may like them in blog posts, but they get old quickly in presentations.
- Use images – they can convey so much! Use the highest quality you can find. Try Flickr, Pixabay , and stock.exchg for starters.
- Keep charts simple – minimal data points and no special effects. Read this on Powerpoint numeracy or see what Reynolds says about Signal vs. Noise.
- 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.
- Keep the lights on – let the students see you and their notes.
- 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.