Have you ever left a powerpoint presentation and thought “WOW!”? I didn’t think so. Powerpoints are designed to be presentation aids. When we try and use them as a way getting lots of information across they can be terribly boring! So what makes a great presentation?
#1) A lesson from Sesame Street
Sesame Street is an example of a presentation (TV) that requires government and private funding. In order to get this they need to prove that their content is memorable.
At first, Cookie Monster would run around with, say, the letter ‘D’. He would be dancing all around the ‘D’. The funny thing was, kids didn’t learn the letter. There were too many distractions! The children’s eyes just followed the Cookie Monster around. After additional research, they found that if the character was HOLDING the letter ‘d’, or if the letter to be learned was animated, learning resulted. Learning increased even more when Cookie Monster was teaching ‘C’. This is because C was always in close proximity to cookie monster.
How does this relate to our presentations?
When we want students or viewers to internalize something, nothing should move but the most important idea. Transitions that aren’t relevant will distract from the main idea and memory retention will fall.
Instead, keep the slide simple and place related items close together. If want to show that cookies make kids happy, then place a smily face near a cookie. The closer things are together, the faster the brain creats an association and locks it in memory.
#2) Chunking Information
- Take a bunch of information and break it down into bite size chunks that people can understand.
- Use headings, or other methods to give the learner a heads up on what we are going to learn.
Transitions & Glammor
- Use transitions very, very sparingly. Watch TV. How many times do they dissolve or flame away? Most times the camera just sharply moves from one camera to the next. It doesn’t bother us.
- Use very large fonts with good contrast.
#3 Competing Modalities
- Avoid reading text on a slide.
This brings up a good point. Competing Modalities. What is it? It means that your senses (visual and auditory mostly) are competing!
If you have no choice but to put a quote or long text box on your slide, DON’T READ IT! Take a few moments and let the student or viewer process that information. If you read it, your audience is going to read it at the same time, and retention will go out the window! Their ears will be competing against their eyes.
Now you can go out and make a great presentation! If you have any success stories, or have a particularly terrible powerpoint story you want to share, please leave a comment! 🙂