presentation design

Course 3 Final Project – Revised Presentation

Course 3 Final Project – Revised Presentation

For my Course 3 final project, I decided to act upon my week 3 blog post regarding the changes I would like to make to a presentation.  Since I typically use either Google Slides or PowerPoint for my presentations in class, I wanted to stick to one of these programs so I could use the concepts learned in future presentations I create.  Here is the presentation that I started with before my revisions:

As you can see, it is quite bland and uninspiring.  Although I am able to convey the content in my presentation, it lacks any real staying power and will not resonate with the students during the presentation.  When considering this presentation in week three, I decided to focus on three clear areas so that I am not minimizing content, but create a stronger, more aesthetically sound presentation.

  1. Planning – I wanted to spend some time to plan out this presentation so that it does not look as though it is just thrown together.  Typically, when I make these types of common mistakes presentations, I jot down some ideas while I am working through the stacks of essays.  While this planning is something, it does not really consider how the presentation looks and feels, but solely considers the content.
  2. Create a Handout – This is my biggest struggle when considering how presentations are changing.  Will my content suffer if I present a minimalist presentation?  By creating a detailed handout, this should present the sacrificed content for simplicity and images.
  3. Design a “Sticky” Presentation – I wanted a sleeker design than what I created before, with images leading the way, not words.  This could provide thematic or representative connections for the students, and should give them a message that “sticks”.

Step 1 – Planning

With this presentation I spent more time thinking about and planning what the presentation would look like than with any other presentation I have ever made.  When I am starting my presentations I typically spend a lot of time on research and note taking, but that places more of an emphasis on the content and ideas as opposed to constructing a captivating presentation.  This needed to change.  When I started to think about this presentation, I wanted to storyboard the entire presentation, and I used this as a first step.  I asked myself questions such as: How many slides would I create?  What would be the focus on each slide?  What types of images would I use to create messages that “stick”?  I took to my white board and came up with the following.  I am not the most artistic person, (as you can see from the first presentation) so I relied heavily on words and ideas to create a concept and plan for my presentation:

Storyboard for my revised presentation.

Storyboard for my revised presentation.

With my planning complete, and ideas narrowed as to how I wanted to represent each topic, it was time to move on to creating a handout.

Step 2 – Create a Handout of Key Ideas

As I stated above, this is my biggest concern with presentations that are image heavy and lack text.  I am flooded with questions: If I say something, will they always remember it?  What are they actually writing down in their notes?  How can I be sure they are listening?  What if the student lacks auditory skills?  To alleviate these concerns, the idea of using a handout or a leave behind really stuck with me.  With each of my slides planned out, I made detailed remarks on each of the topics that the students need to remember for their next assessment.  These notes would essentially serve as the talking points during my presentation.  I will upload this file to the students’ Google Drive for them to access after the presentation, and I don’t think I will tell students that there is a handout to accompany the presentation.  I want to use this handout as an aide to the students, but not as a crutch so they can zone out during the entire presentation.  Ideally, with their detailed notes from the presentation and our conversation, and this handout, the students will have a comprehensive understanding of the areas they are lacking from their summative Paper 2.

My blog’s theme does not really lend itself to clear reading of an outline, so feel free to click here for a clearer view of the document.

With the content of my presentation taken care of, my last step is the design of the presentation itself so that the content I am presenting “sticks” with my audience.

Step 3 – Designing a “Sticky” Presentation

While creating my presentation, the main areas I wanted to focus on were simplicity, images, and font.  My intention of focusing on these ideas was to create a presentation that would last in my students memory.  Based on studies done on visual literacy, students have a far higher likelihood to remember something if it is processed through an image than if it is read as words.  With this idea in mind, I created my presentation that connected to the text with thematic links as opposed to writing out words – my handout can do that for me.  The images and minimal words allows for greater focus and attention to the my spoken messages, as opposed to writing down my text word for word.

The last idea I wanted to focus on while creating my presentation was my font selection.  In the past, I would typically scroll through the available themes and pick a theme that appealed to me and stick with it for the entirety of the presentation.  To make my ideas appeal to the audience, I picked different fonts for each slide that all centered on the same concept.  After doing some research, according to Presentation Panda, one of the biggest font trends for presentations are handwritten fonts (fonts that appear handwritten).  These types of fonts really appealed to me, so I found 8 fonts that fit this criteria and used a different one on each slide while considering size and spacing.  The last touch to my presentation was to bold key words in each of my titles if the font and background allowed.  This served to provide emphasis, and allowed my students to focus on a key idea when applicable.  Without further ado, this is my final product:

Overall, I am very happy with how this presentation turned out.  Throughout this revision process, the main thing that I learned is that creating solid presentations that will “stick” is a process.  While I am not completely sold on this new method (and am excited to try it out), I feel far less intimidated to experiment and try presentations in this new style.

Another Makeover: Presentation Edition

Another Makeover: Presentation Edition

Presentation and presentation design is always something that I have grappled with as a teacher.  I have always thought that there was a difference between presentations and lectures, and that the presentations that I am making within the context of my classroom should serve to not only engage students, but also teach course content, and stimulate or facilitate discussion.  At my current school it is further complicated as we do not have textbooks or one collection of reading to assign students at home, so most lectures, even if for a short amount of time, serve to share information that the students must know.

Whenever my students complete a formal formative or summative and I mark a batch of essays, I always create common mistakes powerpoints to facilitate discussion on areas in which my students can improve.  After I gave this powerpoint I immediately thought of this week of COETAIL, as this would be the perfect presentation to make over.  I was so interested in the readings for this week, that I chose this presentation makeover as my final project of Course 3.  Here is the presentation that I will be looking at developing:


As you can easily see with this presentation, there is copious amounts of text, and no images present.  Before watching the following video on Presentation Zen, this was my understanding of simplicity.  The students would be able to listen to me discuss their essays as a collective, and would be able to pose questions based on my class feedback.

YouTube Preview Image

After watching this video on Presentation Zen, it was clear that I misunderstood effective simplicity.  There is no argument being made to create complex presentations that are incredibly time consuming to make.  The idea is that with a balance between images, minimal words, and a sharp simplistic design, students will not only be more receptive to my presentation, but will remember it longer as well.

What would I change about this presentation?

The first area of this presentation that is lacking is the planning.  Obviously, I planned in regards to content, and took notes as I was marking my students essays on things that I need to remember to tell them.  What would be so hard about applying this same principle of preparation to the presentation itself?  It is not just the content of the presentation that is important, but the visual literacy and the relationship between images and words.  My first step in redesigning this presentation is hitting the drawing board and planning out the presentation.

The next idea that struck me about my presentation is the idea of the leave behind or a detailed handout to accompany the presentation.  This is the area I have always found the most difficulty when discussing presentation design and what presentations should look like.  I have always thought that by adding content to the slides and ensuring discussion based on that content, that all students would be exposed to the information I am giving.  What do we do about students that will not read the handout?  My thought has always been that if we go through the content during a lecture and discussion, then even if the students are not focused, they are still hearing the content and writing it once.  My worry is always that if I rely on visuals, even if the students are making visual connections, they will not consider the content as they will not complete the required readings that go along with the images.  This is the biggest area of concern, but I will attempt to present minimal, superfluous content and use a handout to support my presentation.

I was also struck with the idea of crafting messages that stick.  Reynolds addresses this idea through the acronym SUCCESs.

Photo Credit: symphony of love via Compfight cc

Photo Credit: symphony of love via Compfight cc

Considering the ideas that I will be presenting are related to the students’ common mistakes from their summative Paper 2, I will focus on the ideas of simplicity and concreteness.  Spurned by their desires to improve and grow, if I present simple enough messages that are grounded in the realities of the students summatives, they should “stick” enough for the students to be inspired by the extra stimulus handout that I will pass on to students at the conclusion of the presentation.

Overall, when looking to revamp this presentation, the main areas I will focus my attention will be simplicity, clarity and links between images and content present, and minimal ideas.  I will also create a storyboard prior to creating the presentation, as well as a handout to accompany the presentation when I am finished.  With these ideas addressed, not only should the presentation be clear and effective while I am delivering the presentation, it should grab the students’ attention and resonate afterwords.