Using Visuals to Get the Message Across

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Making “Back to School Night” more interesting … if it’s possible.

I hate boring PowerPoint presentations. Especially the ones where your tongue gets all dry because you end up talking all the time. You know … you have all this information to get across, all of it important (you think), bit it is never-ending. Jeffrey R. Young in When Computers Leave Classrooms, So Does Boredom mentions a few really interesting issues, namely that:

many teachers and professors often lean on the slide-display program as a crutch rather using it as a creative tool.

I agree, and I have done it in the past. Actually, I hate speaking in front of a large audience, so anything that will help distract them is a bonus. It’s the idea of getting naked. As Garr Reynolds puts it:

Being naked involves stripping away all that is unnecessary to get at the essence of your message…. Remove all encumbrances, be in the moment, naked…and connect.

Hmm. Sounds a bit risky to me.

Jeffrey R. Young also mentions that:

Class time should be reserved for discussion …

and I think that this is where a good presentation should be headed; encouraging questions & discussion rather than verbal diarrhea.

How can I change this?

I guess the key is to involve the audience and have them take action for which direction your presentation goes in. I would love to develop a slide show presentation which is like a “choose your own ending” story. The audience controls which direction the presentation goes in. Questions are given, and you then speak or discuss in that direction. A number of images can be displayed to tweak their curiosity and get them thinking …

The original Back to School Night presentation worked OK.  I got the message across I am sure, but it must have bored some. It bored me. Now, I have begun tearing it apart, and thinking carefully about what images I can use to grab the audience, and once they are with me, keep them tuned in.

So, the question was where to start. I began by looking at each slide individually, and recognizing that ALL of them were text heavy, I thought about how each slide could be broken down into a number of sub-slides. These secondary slides could then focus on a different keyword each. I now have a bunch of holes that I intend to fill. It will take time, finding images that steer the audience in the direction I want to go in (for some of the time anyways). Also, I intend to back everything up online. The class blog will be introduced on the night, and all documents pertaining to Grade 3 will be online, on the blog, and ready to download. When you think about it, the ISB Grade 3 handbook would cover most of what I talked about anyways. I may even email ahead of time, announcing that it is online and ready to download, and have them read ahead of time so they come in with questions … good images will encourage good questions! When I am done, I can upload my presentation to Slideshare for others to see, and possibly use.

I plan to use Garr’s guidelines on how to present naked in redeveloping my presentation:

1. Be present in the moment.

2. Don’t try to impress.

3. Keep the lights on.

4. Forget the podium.

5. Use a small remote, allowing you to move around the room.

6. Don’t hide.

7. Don’t become attached to your software.

8. Keep it simple.

9. Be credible.

10. Speak like a human being.

11. Think of your audience as active participants.

12. Be comfortable … be confident with what you have to present.

13. Don’t decorate your message or supporting visuals.

14. Think of balance.

The dilemma is how much freedom do you give the audience, and how do you prepare for something like this when you know that many people sitting there want to be spoken to … presented with information directly. I guess, I will see next year …

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~ by yamaguru on October 10, 2009.

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