Nuggets on preparing/giving Presentations

Designing a presentation without an audience in mind is like writing a love letter “to whom it may concern…” Ken Hammer, AT&T

For several years in my 20s I worked first in the publications area of an organization and then for a printer-broker. The printer-broker shared office space with a graphics company, which gave me occasion  to help with layout when the company was short staffed. My interest in graphic design and layout stemmed from being Copy Editor for my high school paper, followed by Copy Editor for a short-lived student-found college magazine. That interest also manifested in the decoration of my bedroom walls. To feed that interest, I took a class or two at the School for Visual Arts.

Years later, as a teacher enmeshed in computers and computing, I refound my interest in the form of digital layout and publishing possibilities, made multiple presentations (informal and formal) to teaching colleagues, and discovered Garr Reynolds, blogger at Presentation Zen.

Having purchased all of Garr’s books plus a few that he recommended, and devouring  everything I could on the topic of presentation (and the brain!), I am now at the paring down spot. The place where it is time to pass along these informative and always-timely references to others, and save the nuggets here. I’ve mentioned Garr multiple times in posts and now add to that collection by recommending his Thoughts & Tips on Presenting Naked, from his February 2007 talk at the Apple Store in Osaka, Japan.

Here’s some of the advice I give when teachers ask me for advice on computer projects.

Any computer project always takes a little longer than a  non-computer project, because the computer lets us revise and experiment endlessly.

When creating a presentation:

• focus on the content first (text to convey facts, images to convey emotion)
• keep transitions simple & limit to just a few styles
• skip the special effects; they often detract from your message
• keep the number of words to a minimum; YOU are the story teller, not your text
• text should be large enough to be seen from the back row of a reasonably sized room
• have consistency of fonts, style, color and layout
• imagine you are creating a children’s picture book; they have few words & lots of images

When giving a presentation:

• take a deep breath
• ground yourself
• look around at your audience and make eye contact
• smile
• speak clearly (enunciate)
• speak expressively (elocute)
• speak so people can hear you
• talk to the audience and not to the screen

And I could not leave out this comment from my brother, paraphrasing the advice of my Uncle Leo, who was a full colonel in the US Air Force (and had been an Acting General), on telling my brother the best way to present:

Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em – Tell ’em – Tell ’em what you told ’em


One thought on “Nuggets on preparing/giving Presentations

  1. Neiman

    And I might add…let your audience talk to each other about what they are hearing and learning. From turn to an elbow partner and discuss what you just heard to more elaborate groups to apply what you learned!

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