Tips for avoiding ‘death-by-presentation’!

Not long ago, I posted a blog about ‘Death-by-presentation’ Guilty? You are not alone! The post discussed how and why educators fall into the ‘Death-by-presentation’ trap.

The suggested solution: First, acknowledge the different purposes between highly engaging presentations and those used to share educational content. Second, recognise the valuable information recorded in a text-heavy presentation and use it as a) the basis for a visually engaging presentation and b) the supporting notes for you to present and provide learners afterwards. 

Here are four general tips and tools for turning your text-heavy presentations into a more engaging experience for your audience.

Tip number 1: Copy and bullet point

Make a copy of your presentation. Copy the text on each slide and paste it into the notes section. Whittle down your text to 3-6 bullet points and place these on the slide. Now you have all the important information you had before and an uncluttered slide for the audience!

Tip number 2: Templates

Use templates! We are educators, not graphic designers, so utilise the work graphic designers have put into making templates. Avoid the old, been seen a million times generic templates you find in PowerPoint and Google Slides and find fresh new ones. Check out Slides Carnival. Online presentation tools such as Canva or Prezi also offer thousands of options. 

Tip number 3: Get your audience involved

Death-by-presentation: even with a visually unengaging presentation, nothing avoids death-by-presentation better than handing the screen’s control over to your viewers. There are lots of ways to do this – it may be as simple as adding some hyperlinks to upcoming slides so your audience can choose which topic/slide to go to next, or go a little further and use tools like Mentimeter, Poll Everywhere, Kahoot, Nearpod or Canva Live.

Tip number 4: Visuals (but do not overdo it!)

Use stock images and videos that relate to your content. However, do not overdo it; keep it simple and in keeping with your slide’s main point. Utilise’ white space’ (see design principles in the previous blog post). Also, if you cannot quickly find a suitable image, rely on the template to do its job; every slide does not need a visual. Too many visuals will distract the audience, and if they are unrelated, they may confuse your audience. Sometimes less really is more!

Presentation tools

There are many out there, and so many do an excellent job. Which one should you use? This really depends what the purpose of your presentation is and who your audience are. I often mix and match. PowerPoint is ‘powerful, especially if you explore its many features in depth. Google Slides is ideal for Google-based institutions; intuitive, easy to use and provides excellent access to the web directly from the side panel. Prezi has some great templates and great video recording and live features. Sway has a fantastic web feel, and I love its interactive stack feature.

I will leave you with my overall favourite at the moment, Canva. See below why.

Five reasons why I use Canva

1. Thousands of templates to make your own.
2. Lots and lots of excellent stock images and videos.
3. Remove image and video backgrounds at the click of a button.
4. Download options is every option you can think of including PowerPoint!
5. A presentation option which allows viewers to add comments and emojis directly onto the presentation screen.

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