Presentation Literacy: Skills for Effective Communication

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Monica Bulger's presentation skills workshop for SDP 2010.

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  • beyond a line item on your CV,
    take a moment to write down what you hope to gain from listening to the presentations over the next two weeks
  • take a moment to write down what you hope to gain from listening to the presentations over the next two weeks

  • jot down a few goals you have for your presentation. feel free to borrow from this list or create your own.
  • people like Steve Jobs believe your main idea should fit on a napkin, others, a post-it


  • please take the next 3-5 minutes to brainstorm your main idea. can you distill it into a single sentence?

  • turn to someone next to you and share what you think your big idea is. be prepared for them not to understand. spend a few minutes discussing your ideas and pay attention to the questions they ask.
  • take a few moments to jot down ideas.

  • who is your primary audience?
    what do you share in common, how are they different from you?





  • why does it matter? why should it matter? the toughest part of interdisciplinary dialogue


  • what do they wear? where do they live? where do they shop? how much do you really know about your audience? (more than you think)
    Really, what is a day like for them? What drives them? What are they passionate about -- is it the topic of your letter/report/presentation? Should be.

  • returning to the list from earlier, what idea, action, question, do you hope your audience will walk away with?









































  • When we create visuals that are intended to be read, offering the viewer enough contrast between the background (paper or screen) and the text is important. Text presentations ideally offer at least an 80% contrast between figure and ground. (Black text on a white background is ideal.) If there is not enough contrast between figure and ground, a viewer will squint to view the text, causing eye fatigue.
  • When we create visuals that are intended to be read, offering the viewer enough contrast between the background (paper or screen) and the text is important. Text presentations ideally offer at least an 80% contrast between figure and ground. (Black text on a white background is ideal.) If there is not enough contrast between figure and ground, a viewer will squint to view the text, causing eye fatigue.
  • Yellow text on a white background or blue text on a black background, are difficult to read due to the low level of contrast between figure and ground.
  • Yellow text on a white background or blue text on a black background, are difficult to read due to the low level of contrast between figure and ground.
  • When choosing complementary colors, fully saturated colors will offer the highest level of contrast.



















  • 3 last tips
  • 3 last tips
  • 3 last tips
  • 3 last tips
  • 3 last tips





  • acknowledge the contribution of question, plan ahead: what questions may be asked and try to address them in your presentation.


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