Tuesday, December 23, 2008

A Spoon Full of Sugar Helps the Presentation Go Down

In Blunt Force Presentation Trauma from CogDogBlog by Alan Levine aka CogDog, he gives great ideas for giving better presentations. These are important to me since I have to give 3 presentations in January. Here is what he suggests:

“Be human. I see so much this expectation of coming off as some sort of academic expert in white Gandalf garb. It lends people down the path of monotonic speaking, or worse, reading to the helpless, trapped, and bored stiff audience. Those are human people out there, and will connect better if you speak, walk, stand like one, not like some talking robot.
Involve me. This is harder, but if you are talking at me, I am just a victim of being hit over the with content. Poll people. Ask for hand raises. Call on people. I have been mesmerized watching natural speakers like
Cynthia Cologne stroll out into the audience, look people in the eye, roll them into her message. She speaks with quiet passion. Get away from the podium, the mouse, the pointer. Be with your audience, not in front of them.
Do not make the slides your crutch. Visuals are important, but often it seems like all of the effort is put into the pretty pictures and doily backgrounds… spend time charting your message. Don’t talk to the slides; even try with planning a talk where there are just rotating visuals in the background.”

I feel we are going back to the old fashioned way of presenting. Using power points and technology was a great way to entertain while giving speeches, presenters got lazy. As a participant, if you can read your presentation off of the slides, than I can do with a written report and be done with it. I want more though.

I think this is the way I teach also. I like to be more of a facilitator than a lecturer. I want to give some basic information and then let the participants explore and discuss. When I give my presentation on Voicethreads, I will give a demonstration on how easy it is. Then I want the participants to give brainstorm on how they could use it in the classroom. We will probably be in the computer lab, so they can actually explore the program. When I give my presentation on PBwiki, I will not have access to computers, but the participants can brainstorm in small groups, ways they can use this in their classroom. Sometimes you can get a great idea after hearing from others.

I believe that people need to “take away” something from the presentation but this doesn’t mean it must be a paper handout. It can be a seed of an idea, or a connection with others. It can be the web address for a resource to come back to when they return home. I hope when the time comes, the participants will feel my presentation was worth the time they have spent there.

Original image: 'A little sugar in my bowl' http://www.flickr.com/photos/34745138@N00/139793866


Anonymous said...

I like the bit about the "doily background". I have made a rule for myself: never have any text on a powerpoint slide. A few well chosen pictures or diagrams ... used only to stimulate some thinking.

Something else I find useful to let the medicine go down is to find out as much about the audience as I can before the presentation. What is their profile? What is their knowledge/experience level on the subject to be presented? Why are be attending? What do they hope to get out of the presentation? If there is time, the last question could even be put to them at the beginning of the presentation if this information is not available ahead of time. If one does not keep these questions in mind, and prepare the presentation accordingly, one is bound to bore the audience. They are taking the trouble to attend - difnify them by giving them something to take home with them (and I am totally with you that this does not mean just a paper hand-out).

Tammy Worcester said...

Great Post! I especially like your clever title!

loonyhiker said...

Kobus: Thanks so much about reminding me to know my audience. That was great because it will help me a lot!