What makes an effective presentation?

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.

Images combined with text is more effective. We have heard that a picture tells a thousand words. A concept is more memorable and more comprehensive with both images and text.

 

#2) Chunking Information

  • Take a bunch of information and break it down into bite size chunks that people can understand.
Slides with a small amount of information will be digested faster. Instead of presenting 4 items on a single slide, break it down into 4, 5, 6 or more slides. That doesn’t mean that the time spent on the topic increases, just that you’ll be switching slides more often.

Advanced Organizers

  • Use headings, or other methods to give the learner a heads up on what we are going to learn.
Many people love to see the end from the beginning, and when this doesn’t happen they spend the entire presentation trying to guess what’s going to happen. By giving a brief introduction and roadmap at the beginning, and providing relevant headings helps these students and viewers stay on focus and know what to expect. It’s a simple thing that will help keep a larger percentage of people engaged in your presentation.

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.

Legibility

  • Use very large fonts with good contrast.
Far too many presentations fill pages with text. That’s bad. But what’s even worse is when the contrast is terrible and fonts are too small to read from the back of the room. The presenter doesn’t even know this is a problem. After all, he wrote it! Avoid themes with deep colours or contrasting text. My presentations often use nothing but a while or light gray with very large fonts. Often only a few words per slide!
bad powerpoint example

Terrible! The text is small, the contrast is hurting my eyes, and some of the text disappears into the background.

better example of powerpoint

This example uses a simple image and small amount of text. It even has a header. This is a great example.

 

#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.

 

Great presentations!

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!  🙂

 

Youtube tips for teachers & presenters

In my Education and Technology class I gained some valuable insight on preparing for class when YouTube videos are involved. These tips will help make your presentation go smoother and increase the quality for the viewer.

Tip #1. Use the highest resolution

Youtube videos look great at 240p on our phones, and fine at 480p on our personal computers. The problem is when we display youtube videos on the projector they get pixelated! To fix this, swap to 720 or 1080p for the highest quality at large sizes.

Tip #2: Let it load

Before your class or presentation, click play and let it load. Nothing is worse than seeing the  spinning wheel when you are ready to watch. Actually, there is something worse, and that is having the video cut out and have to reload! As seen in the image below, the lighter gray indicates how much of the video is loaded. Once the movie is fully loaded you don’t have to worry about buffering, or reloading.

Tip #3: Change the cache level

This tip is only nessessory if your browser won’t load the entire movie. If that happens, right click (or 2 finder tap or control click on a Mac) on the movie zone and choose Settings.

Then, click on the folder and set the Local Storage to unlimited. This should fix most of your loading problems!

 Tip #4: Is this technology pertinent?

Before using any technology in the classroom or presentation, we need to ask ourselves this question: “Is this something that is going to help get my point across or am I just using this to use technology?”

 

Hopefully these tips help you out! Feel free to leave a comment.

Youtube tips for teachers & presenters

In my Education and Technology class I gained some valuable insight on preparing for class when YouTube videos are involved. These tips will help make your presentation go smoother and increase the quality for the viewer.

Tip #1. Use the highest resolution

Youtube videos look great at 240p on our phones, and fine at 480p on our personal computers. The problem is when we display youtube videos on the projector they get pixelated! To fix this, swap to 720 or 1080p for the highest quality at large sizes.

Tip #2: Let it load

Before your class or presentation, click play and let it load. Nothing is worse than seeing the  spinning wheel when you are ready to watch. Actually, there is something worse, and that is having the video cut out and have to reload! As seen in the image below, the lighter gray indicates how much of the video is loaded. Once the movie is fully loaded you don’t have to worry about buffering, or reloading.

Tip #3: Change the cache level

This tip is only nessessory if your browser won’t load the entire movie. If that happens, right click (or 2 finder tap or control click on a Mac) on the movie zone and choose Settings.

Then, click on the folder and set the Local Storage to unlimited. This should fix most of your loading problems!

 Tip #4: Is this technology pertinent?

Before using any technology in the classroom or presentation, we need to ask ourselves this question: “Is this something that is going to help get my point across or am I just using this to use technology?”

 

Hopefully these tips help you out! Feel free to leave a comment.

6 tips to teach future bloggers

Blogging has become one of the most popular activities on the internet. Millions of people around the world participate in sharing their thoughts, projects, rants, views, and even cooking recipes.

Everyone has information they have learned and experiences worth sharing. Unfortunately, many people believe that blogging is something reserved specifically for those with technical experience. A great way to overcome this stigma is to incorporate teaching basic blogging into the education system.

Examples of how a teacher could incorporate blogging in the classroom:

  • Share stories written in class with family and friends
  • Create a space for classroom reflection
  • Allow students to share work with classmates
  • Engage students

Places like WordPress.org and Weebly.com offer great free resources to get students (and teachers) into the blogging world without any previous experience other than basic mouse and keyboard skills.

To help students succeed with their blog and have it be effective I’ve listed 6 simple tips:

Tip #1: See what’s already out there!

The internet is a big place! You don’t have to be the first person with an idea, but you should know what’s out there. Maybe there is something you can improve upon. Maybe you don’t want to make the same mistakes as someone else. Who knows, maybe you will learn something new to add to your blog!

Tip #2: Keep images small.

Everyone knows that we all hate a website that takes a long time to load, but did you know that search engines also hate it? It’s true. Websites and pages that take forever to load are said to have poor search engine optimization (SEO). This means that people may not ever even find your website because it will be on page 30,281 in Google.

Many blogging services like WordPress will automatically scale your image to the correct size. For ones that don’t, simply go into your favorite image editor and scale and crop so it’s the size you want when the image is at 100% size.

Tip #3: Create an About Me page

What’s the most visited page on blog? Right after the landing page, it’s the ‘About me’ page. Every blogger should have a site that tells something about themselves. The internet is all about connections, and what better way to connect with someone than learning a bit about their personality.

Tip #4: Make your site look good!

What made Apple such a famous and successful company (besides white headphones)? Simplicity and user interface! Some websites have very small print, cluttered navigation, and are just plain UGLY!

Are we good critical judges of our own work? Even if we are, having students perform a ‘page race’ on another students website is a great way to help the student get feedback and see their layout effectiveness from an outside perspective. Take a stop watch and time how long it takes to find the ‘About Me’ or some other page. Students can work on tweaking their design to help their get the lowest time on their page!

Tip #5: Check your work

Believe it or not, some people still use Internet Exploiter. err… Explorer. If your students are a little more advanced and editing the code to their web page, it’s important to see how it looks on both Macs and PCs, iPhones and Androids. What is all nicely arranged on your browser might be (and probably will be) ugly on another.

Oh ya! Dont forget to check your speling and grammor. i forget that step all the time. Its very unprofesional and lowers the credibilitty of your eforts.

Tip #6: Share it!

Did you know some people make tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars a year from their blog? That happens with people put advertising or sell products they talk about. But before you can even hope to make a dime you must first get people visiting your site! Post it on your Facebook, twitter, and send it to all your friends. Even if you have no desire to advertise, sell or make money from your blog, what good is a site if no one knows?

Conclusion

We could talk all day about how to make a blog great, but the important thing is to just get started! You will be surprised about how much you’ll learn along the away.

 

 Resources

Still interested in learning more? Here are a few links that my Education and Techology class referenced to:

Tips on building an effective website

How to keep websites looking professional

A teacher’s Guide to Building a Website — Oddly enough, there was an image stock over the main links so I couldn’t use this much. A good example of a bad example! 🙂