Thursday, February 6, 2014

Thing 8 : Presentations

From : "Slides"
As we're getting into the spring semester, it's time to take a look at doing excellent presentations. The basic idea, of course, is to avoid Death by PowerPoint (or whatever tool you're using.) Of course, doing that takes some planning. The good news is that there are lots of ways to create an excellent presentation, and many of them aren't that hard to do.

The basics: 

A good presentation is like telling a story: you want to make it clear what you're talking about, and then build on that in a way that makes sense to your audience. Obviously, there's a number of ways to do this - find your own style.

One of the most common tools is Microsoft's PowerPoint (or the equivalent Apple product, Keynote). But really, you can do a presentation using all sorts of tools - what matters is your content and how you present it, not the software. Prezi, a new software tool, is also getting a lot of interest: it allows for a less linear approach. (I use it for technology training, when I have a lot of screenshots, but I'm not sure what topics people will want to discuss most.) 

Also think about how you can share your presentation with people with visual or audio impairments (I usually do a thorough handout, both for these reasons and because I use very little text on my slides).

Some resources:

Garr Reynolds has written a number of books, including Presentation Zen. His blog has some amazing resources and recommendations. To start with, check out his three sets of ten tips: prepare, design, and deliver.

He has posts describing the styles of several distinctive presenters: Lawrence Lessig, Seth Godin, Guy Kawasaki, and the late Steve Jobs. His post on what a good PowerPoint slide looks like is also very helpful (though rather dated in details - it's almost a decade old.) He's also got a great post showing how two styles of presenting would have changed a scene in Star Wars.

Other resources:


Things to try:  

1) Think about any topics you may need to present. Try drafting out how your presentation might go. You don't need to write the whole thing out - just outline what the most important parts are. 

2) Watch a few excellent presentations on topics that interest you. Pay attention to how the presenters (Note: TEDTalks are excellent for this purpose.)  

3) Next time you have to present something, try one of the techniques or tools in here that's new to you. See how it works for you.  


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