Taking Your Slide Deck to the Next Level
Content, Delivery, and Design
Millions of students and adults are literally being lulled to sleep by bad PowerPoint presentations.
This poor young man could be in your class.
Or worse - it could be YOU being bored to tears by an ineffective PowerPoint presentation.
What would you most like to improve
about your presentations?
What do you hope to get out of today’s
Presentation Strategy: Get them writing to get them thinking...
Take two minutes to prime the pump by engaging your audience in some writing. In this case, itʼs effective to write the prompts on
the slide so that the audience can refer back to it as they write.
What are the aspects of an effective presentation?
* Engaging content
* Positive delivery
* Sexy design
These guys know a lot about engaging their audience with effective delivery. And they donʼt need slides.
Remember: The slides arenʼt the presentation. YOU ARE. Slides should NOT say everything youʼre going to say.
Content - the “stuff” you want to communicate
The slide deck is NOT the content.
So whatʼs the problem?
Presentation software was created to:
* Help the audience visualize ideas
* Create key points
Presenters have typically used it as:
* A prompter
* A handout generator
* A data dump
Creating (un)Engaging Content
• This slide is an example of what we have come to typically expect from a
• There is a lot of text (small text) that conveys a lot of information
• Plus we’ve got bullets
• Presenters read line-by-line exactly what is on the slide
• Students work furiously to copy the slide verbatim into their notes
• It becomes the 21st century equivalent of the overhead projector
• What’s going on for students cognitively while the presenter reads the
notes and they copy?
This is a classic example of how presenters typically build slides.
The use of the PowerPoint presentation has been a disaster.
It should be ditched.
John Sweller, University of NSW
Weʼre trying to make it easier, but ironically weʼre making it harder. It is more difﬁcult to process information if it is coming at you in
the written and spoken form at the same time.
According to a research study on “cognitive load theory” conducted at the University of New South Wales (Australia), the human
brain processes and retains more information if it is digested in either its verbal or written form, BUT NOT BOTH.
This is a common practice for presenters. WE THINK WEʼRE HELPING! We think weʼre giving them twice as many opportunities
to “digest” the information. In reality, the sum of the visual and auditory experiences is LESS than the beneﬁt from either of the two
We read: Between 250 and 400 words per minute
We can hear: About 150 to 160 words per minute
We can speak: About 105 words per minute
We can copy by hand: About 22 words per minute
So if weʼre asking students to hand-copy notes from the projector while we read aloud to them the same text thatʼs on the slide...
Do you see a problem here with respect to how presenters “typically” use PowerPoint? Or how teachers use PowerPoint to
“encourage” student note-taking?
Either put up the text and let them read (why canʼt they do that from a book?)...
...or put up some other visual representation and TELL THEM what you want them to know about it.
The PowerPoint Curve
Words Per Slide
It is effective to speak to a diagram or chart because the information is being presented in a different form.
This is much more effective than the visual representation of the spoken word.
Make your slides media-rich.
Images are a very powerful visual anchor to give your audience while you are speaking.
Where do I get images?
* Flickr Creative Commons - Free
* Free Digital Photos
* iStockPhoto - Cheap
If you are only using a presentation in your classroom, some copyrighted images may be OK under “fair use.” If you intend to
make your presentation viewable to a wider audience (via SlideShare of the like) you need to be careful with the images you use.
Just say, “NO!” to clip art.
Do you teach government? American History?
A CC image from Flickr of Honest Abe in the Lincoln Memorial in DC.
You may not be able to take your students on a boat ride down the Seine to see Notre Dame, but you can do better than a
A CC image from Flickr.
So youʼve nailed the content. Letʼs talk about the delivery.
Delivery is how you COMMUNICATE VERBALLY with your audience.
Lecturing is not good
for children and
other living things.
Edward Redish, Ph.D.
U of MD Physics Professor
Why To make
Why do you do what you do in the classroom?
So students can memorize facts? They can read facts from a book.
What a book canʼt give them is the “rest of the story.” A text cannot convey the meaning. Only a great teacher can do that.
Teachers love their content area.
There is no one in the room who loves the subject as much as you do.
Effective delivery should let the audience know WHY it is so important to you so you can convince them that itʼs important to
Education is not that different from sales.
If you're not
“It seems to me that if you're not wasting your time and mine, you're here to get me to change my mind, to do something different.
And that, my friend, is selling.” -- Seth Godin
Hopefully your presentation is not only “one-way.”
Ask a question
Poll the class
Hopefully your presentation has some two-way interactivity.
Sounds like FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT!
When you think about delivery, think about how not to be this guy.
And think about how to keep your audience from looking like this guy!
The average attention span is about 18 minutes.
Consider interjecting a “commercial break” into your presentation every 15 minutes or so.
Should be content-related.
Humor is good for learning.
Ween yourself gradually. You donʼt have to follow a prescribed set of “presentation rules,” but here is something to consider...
If youʼre not 100% ready to go text-free, consider trying the KAWASAKI METHOD: Guy Kawasaki - 10 slides, 20 minutes, no font
smaller than 30 points. Although Iʼd prefer to see no font smaller than 64 point...
This concept ﬁts well with the 18-minute attention span. It doesnʼt mean you canʼt go longer than 20 minutes, just be careful to
interject some of those “commercial breaks” we discussed.
What are they to do while youʼre presenting? Are they supposed to be taking notes?
Do they know how?
How will you key them into whatʼs really important since everything is not written on the slide?
If they havenʼt been coached on whatʼs expected, you might as well give them a blank page that looks like this...
* The audience should NOT be frantically trying to scribble every word you say
* Guided notes - map the lecture, but leave “blanks” for key concepts
Image source: http://blog.mrmeyer.com/?p=289
Letʼs talk about the slides - and spend a little time on design.
Iʼm not an artist or a designer, but I read a lot about what makes slides more -- or less! -- effective.
Avoid the “standard issue” PowerPoint templates. Start with a blank canvas.
This slide was designed using the TAKAHASHI METHOD - Use large text as a visual
“DESIGN YOUR PRESENTATION: Never decorate your messages or your supporting visuals. Decoration is veneer. Think
design, but never decoration. Design is soul deep, decoration is ʻHappy Birthdayʼ placed atop a sponge cake.”
-- Seth Godin
If you need an illustration of this point, just assign a slide show as the student deliverable for a class project. Left to their own
devices many students will turn in something that uses every whiz-bang effect available but with precious little content. A single
slide shouldnʼt take an hour and a half to make.
Born March 14, 1879 in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany
Special theory of relativity - reconciled mechanics with
General theory of relativity
Extended theory to non-uniform motion
Created new theory of gravitation
Won Nobel Prize in Physics in 1921
Died April 17, 1955
Hereʼs how I would have started a lesson on Albert Einstein a year ago.
Which do you like better - this.....
should be as
possible, but not
Remember that a simple design is easier for your audience to understand.
Light letters on a dark background work great for quotes.
We could then move on to something like...
We could talk a little bit about his life - where he was born - his childhood. His Nobel Prize in 1921.
Here he is with Max Planck receiving the Max-Planck Medal in Berlin in 1929.
In other words, weʼre telling the STORY of Albert Einsteinʼs life. People love stories.
Think about color! The human brain loves color!
The brain sees yellow ﬁrst.
According to a study by 3M, color may increase willingness to read by up to 80% and retention by 75%.
Presentations that use color are able to communicate better than those using only black and white.
[need link to citation]
But don’t get crazy
Many people canʼt read this slide.
And even if they could, would they want to?
And when it comes time to work the slide deck, remember...
Think hard about design!!
images are powerful
keep text to a minimum - avoid writing down everything that you intend to say
Would you want to
be in your class?
It all comes down to this
Where I Got This Stuff
PowerPoint for Teachers
How To: Visual Effects in PowerPoint 2003
Life After Death by PowerPoint
How I Made My Presentations a Little Better
I made hard-copies of this slide as a take-away for the audience.