Introduction Slide presentation software such asPowerPoint has become an ingrained part ofmany instructional settings, particularly in largeclasses and in courses more geared towardinformation exchange than skill development.PowerPoint can be a highly effective tool to aidlearning, but if not used carefully, may insteaddisengage students and actually hinderlearning.
AdvantagesPotential benefits of using presentation graphics include:• Engaging multiple learning styles• Increasing visual impact• Improving audience focus• Providing annotations and highlights• Analyzing and synthesizing complexities• Enriching curriculum with interdisciplinary• Increasing spontaneity and interactivity• Increasing wonder
Challenges Although there are many potential benefits to PowerPoint, there areseveral issues that could create problems or disengagement:• Teacher-centered. Students often respond better when instructors have designed sessions for greater classroom interaction, such as the use of student response clickers, designing PowerPoint to facilitate case studies, or use the slides as a replacement for paper worksheets.• Lack of feedback. PowerPoint-based lectures tell you nothing about student learning. Design them to include opportunities for feedback (not simply asking if there are questions, but more actively quizzing your students). This often takes the form of listing questions, not information, on the slides themselves.
• Student inactivity. Slide shows do little to model how students should interact with the material on their own. Include student activities or demonstrations to overcome this, either before or after the slideshow presentation.• Potentially reductive. PowerPoint was designed to promote simple persuasive arguments. Design for critical engagement, not just for exposure to a ―point.‖• Presentation graphics should be about learning, not about presentation.• PowerPoint presentations should help students organize their notes, not just ―be‖ the notes. This is a particular danger with students who grew up accustomed to receiving PowerPoint notes to study from. Some may require convincing that notes should be taken beyond what is already on the slides.
Three Possible Approaches This single presentation about the anatomy of the humaneye has been rewritten in three different ways:• Text-heavy: this version offers complete phrases and a comprehensive recording in words of the material. The text- heavy version can be used as the lecturers speaking notes, and doubles as student notes that can be made available for download either before or after the lecture has taken place. If the information can be accessed elsewhere, such as a textbook, it may be preferable to avoid a text-heavy approach, which many students find disengaging during the delivery.
• Some images: this version sacrifices some of the completeness of the material to create space for accompanying images. The mixed approach appeals to more visual learners while keeping some lecture notes visible, though perhaps in a more abbreviated format. This is a common mode of delivery in large classes. However, there are still some challenges. There is enough material already present in text format that some students may feel obliged to write it all down in their own notes, thus paying less attention to the verbal lecture. Conversely, if the slides are available for download, some students may be able to eschew note-taking in class, yet be tempted to consider these fragmentary notes sufficient for studying for exams.
• Image-heavy: this version relies almost exclusively on images, with little text. The image-heavy approach signals to students that they will have to take their own notes, as these are plainly insufficient on their own for studying. However, lecturers often need more than visual clues to remind themselves how to propel the lecture forward, and separate notes may be required. One elegant solution is to use "Presenter View" on the speakers screen (which displays the notes only to you) and project the slides without notes onto the larger screen visible to the audience.
PowerPoint for Case Studies Elizabeth Rash (Nursing) provided this sample iterative case study(where parameters evolve over time) given to a midsize class. Students arerequired to come to class prepared having read online resources, the text,and a narrated slideshow presentation that accompanies each module. Theclassroom is problem-based (case-based) and interactive, where studentsare introduced to a young woman who ages as the semester progresses andconfronts multiple health issues. Since the nurse practitioner students arebeing prepared to interact with patients, some slides require students tointerview another classmate in a micro role-play. Problem-based lectures frequently alternate between providinginformation and posing problems to the students, which alters the entirecharacter of the presentation. Rather than explain and convey information,many slides ask questions that are intended to prompt critical thinking ordiscussion.
PowerPoint Interactions: Student Response "Clickers" Classroom response systems can improve students learningby engaging them actively in the learning process. Instructors canemploy the systems to gather individual responses from students or togather anonymous feedback. It is possible to use the technology to givequizzes and tests, to take attendance, and to quantify class participation.Some of the systems provide game formats that encourage debate andteam competition. Reports are typically exported to Excel for upload tothe instructors grade book.
PowerPoint as Worksheet Instructors who do not have sufficient photocopyingopportunities in their departments may be less likely to usepaper worksheets with their students, especially in largeclasses. PowerPoint offers the ability to approximateworksheets to illustrate processes or to provide "workedexamples" that shows problem-solving step-by-step. Onevaluable technique is to first demonstrate a process orproblem on one slide, then ask students to work on a similarproblem revealed on the next slide, using their own paperrather than worksheets handed out.
Narrated PowerPoint Downloads The PowerPoint software itself includes built-infunctionality to record your audio commentary. In this fashion,instructors can literally deliver their entire lecture electronically,which can be especially useful in an online course. The resultingfile is still a standard PowerPoint file, but when the slideshow is"played," the recorded instructors voice narrates the action, andthe slides advance on their own, turning whenever they hadbeen advanced by the lecturer during the recording.
Presenter View Using this mode of PowerPoint, your slides areprojected as usual on the big screen and fill the entirespace, but the computer used by the lecturer displays theslides in preview mode, with the space for notes visible atthe bottom of the screen. In this fashion, lecturers can havea set of notes separate from what is displayed to thestudents, which has the overall effect of increasing theengagement of the presentation.
Best Practices: Delivery• Avoid reading: if your slides contain lengthy text, lecture "around" the material rather than reading it directly.• Dark screen: an effective trick to focus attention on you and your words is to temporarily darken the screen, which can be accomplished by clicking the "B" button on the keyboard. Hitting "B" again will toggle the screen back to your presentation.• Navigate slides smoothly: the left-mouse click advances to the next slide, but its more cumbersome to right-click to move back one slide. The keyboards arrow keys work more smoothly to go forward and backward in the presentation. Also, if you know the number of a particular slide, you can simply type that number, followed by the ENTER key, to jump directly to that slide.
Best Practices: Slideshow Construction• Text size: text must be clearly readable from the back of the room. Too much text or too small a font will be difficult to read.• Avoid too much text: one common suggestion is to adhere to the 6x6 rule (no more than six words per line, and no more than six lines per slide). The "Takahasi Method" goes so far as to recommend enormous text and nothing else on the slide, not even pictures, perhaps as little as just one word on each slide.• Contrast: light text on dark backgrounds will strain the eyes. Minimize this contrast, and opt instead for dark text on light backgrounds. Combinations to avoid, in case of partial color blindness in the audience, include red-green, or blue-yellow.• Transitions and animations should be used sparingly and consistently to avoid distractions.• Template: do not change the template often. The basic format should be consistent and minimal.• Use graphics and pictures to illustrate and enhance the message, not just for prettiness.
Other ideas for use on a PowerPoint presentation include:• Change font• Shapes• Clip art• Images• Charts• Tables• Transitions• Animations• Animating text or chart
10 Tips For More Effective Power Point Presentation1. Write a script.A little planning goes a long way. Most presentations are written inPowerPoint (or some other presentation package) without any sort of rhymeor reason.That‘s bass-ackwards. Since the point of your slides is to illustrate andexpand what you are going to say to your audience. You should know whatyou intend to say and then figure out how to visualize it. Unless you are anexpert at improvising, make sure you write out or at least outline yourpresentation before trying to put together slides.And make sure your script follows good storytelling conventions: give it abeginning, middle, and end; have a clear arc that builds towards some sortof climax; make your audience appreciate each slide but be anxious to findout what‘s next; and when possible, always leave ‗em wanting more.
2. One thing at a time, please.At any given moment, what should be on the screen is the thing you‘re talking about. Ouraudience will almost instantly read every slide as soon as it‘s displayed; if you have the next fourpoints you plan to make up there, they‘ll be three steps ahead of you, waiting for you to catchup rather than listening with interest to the point you‘re making.Plan your presentation so just one new point is displayed at any given moment. Bullet points canbe revealed one at a time as you reach them. Charts can be put on the next slide to bereferenced when you get to the data the chart displays. Your job as presenter is to control theflow of information so that you and your audience stay in sync.3. No paragraphs.Where most presentations fail is that their authors, convinced they are producing some kind ofstand-alone document, put everything they want to say onto their slides, in great big chunkyblocks of text.Congratulations. You‘ve just killed a roomful of people. Cause of death: terminal boredompoisoning.Your slides are the illustrations for your presentation, not the presentation itself. They shouldunderline and reinforce what you‘re saying as you give your presentation — save the paragraphsof text for your script. PowerPoint and other presentation software have functions to display notesonto the presenter‘s screen that do not get sent to the projector, or you can use notecards, aseparate word processor document, or your memory. Just don‘t put it on the screen – and forgoodness‘ sake, if you do for some reason put it on the screen, don‘t stand with your back to youraudience and read it from the screen!
4. Pay attention to design.PowerPoint and other presentation packages offer all sorts of ways to add visual ―flash‖ to yourslides: fades, swipes, flashing text, and other annoyances are all too easy to insert with a fewmouse clicks.Avoid the temptation to dress up your pages with cheesy effects and focus instead on simpledesign basics:• Use a sans serif font for body text. Sans serifs like Arial, Helvetica, or Calibri tend to be the easiest to read on screens.• Use decorative fonts only for slide headers, and then only if they’re easy to read. Decorative fonts –calligraphy, German blackface, futuristic, psychotic handwriting, flowers, art nouveau, etc. – are hard to read and should be reserved only for large headlines at the top of the page. Better yet, stick to a classy serif font like Georgia or Baskerville.• Put dark text on a light background. Again, this is easiest to read. If you must use a dark background – for instance, if your company uses a standard template with a dark background – make sure your text is quite light (white, cream, light grey, or pastels) and maybe bump the font size up two or three notches.• Align text left or right. Centered text is harder to read and looks amateurish. Line up all your text to a right-hand or left-hand baseline – it will look better and be easier to follow.• Avoid clutter. A headline, a few bullet points, maybe an image – anything more than that and you risk losing your audience as they sort it all out.
5. Use images sparinglyThere are two schools of thought about images in presentations. Some say they add visualinterest and keep audiences engaged; others say images are an unnecessary distraction.Both arguments have some merit, so in this case the best option is to split the difference:use images only when they add important information or make an abstract point moreconcrete.While we‘re on the subject, absolutely do not use PowerPoint‘s built-in clipart. Anythingfrom Office 2003 and earlier has been seen by everyone in your audience a thousandtimes – they‘ve become tired, used-up clichés, and I hopefully don‘t need to tell you toavoid tired, used-up clichés in your presentations. Office 2007 and non-Office programshave some clipart that isn‘t so familiar (though it will be, and soon) but by now, the entireconcept of clipart has about run its course – it just doesn‘t feel fresh and new anymore.6. Think outside the screen.Remember, the slides on the screen are only part of the presentation – and not the mainpart. Even though you‘re liable to be presenting in a darkened room, give some thoughtto your own presentation manner – how you hold yourself, what you wear, how you movearound the room. You are the focus when you‘re presenting, no matter how interestingyour slides are.
7. Have a hook.Like the best writing, the best presentation shook their audiences early andthen reel them in. Open with something surprising or intriguing, somethingthat will get your audience to sit up and take notice. The most powerfulhooks are often those that appeal directly to your audience‘s emotions –offer them something awesome or, if it‘s appropriate, scare the pants off ofthem. The rest of your presentation, then, will be effectively your promise tomake the awesome thing happen, or the scary thing not happen.8. Ask questions.Questions arouse interest, pique curiosity, and engage audiences. So ask alot of them. Build tension by posing a question and letting your audiencestew a moment before moving to the next slide with the answer. Quiz theirknowledge and then show them how little they know. If appropriate,engage in a little question-and-answer with your audience, with you askingthe questions.
9. Modulate, modulate, modulate.Especially when you‘ve done a presentation before, it can be easy to fall intoa drone, going on and on and on and on and on with only minimal changesto your inflection. Always speak as if you were speaking to a friend, not as ifyou are reading off of index cards (even if you are). If keeping up a lively andpersonable tone of voice is difficult for you when presenting, do a couple ofpractice run-throughs. If you still can‘t get it right and presentations are a bigpart of your job, take a public speaking course or join Toastmasters.10. Break the rules.As with everything else, there are times when each of these rules – or any otherrule you know – won‘t apply. If you know there‘s a good reason to break arule, go ahead and do it. Rule breaking is perfectly acceptable behavior – it‘signoring the rules or breaking them because you just don‘t know any betterthat leads to shoddy boring presentations that lead to boredom, depression,psychopathic breaks, and eventually death. And you don‘t want that, doyou?