Thursday, April 17, 2008

Death By PowerPoint

Our annual Career Fair occured at my school this week. I like to get around at events like this and take pictures to post to the school Flickr account and web page. As I cruised around during the last session of the Career Fair I noticed some consistent occurances.

First of all I want to make it clear that I am not writing this post as a negative response to any of the presenters. These are all local professionals who graciously gave up their time to be part of this event. It's always a great experience for our students to interact with professionals from their community as they start to think about correct pathways through high school and college. I am writing this post for the purpose of looking at student engagement and what teachers can learn about presenting to their classes.

Teachers need to realize that bullet pointed presentations are a sure fire way to lull their audience (students or other teachers) to sleep. This does not tend to provide for an engaging experience for anyone (including the presenter). Many of the presenters who relied on this form of presentation style left the event feeling as though their profession was dull. This is most unfortunate. Their profession isn't dull, their presentation was. The organizers of the event really try hard to get the word out to avoid this sort of presentation. But society some how has made people think that when one presents, one must come with the presenter tool that the pro's use - PowerPoint. There were some examples that used a variety of media (including PowerPoint) that were exceptional. The key was how the presenter engaged his/her students. So despite the title for this post, I want to discuss presentation style.

The successful presentations had the following in common:

  • Presenter connected with the kids by speaking with them (not to them).
  • Presenter used visual aides (pictures, models, tools, and more) to help students understand.
  • Presenter posed questions to the students to get them involved in the presentation.
  • Presenter used slides that supported what they were saying - not slides that were what they said.
  • Presenter showed passion for their profession.

Here are some great resources for presenters (and teachers) to use as they think about how they present information to students as well as other audiences.

Life After Death by PowerPoint by Don McMillan
6 Do's to Open Your Presentation by Bert Decker
Better Beginnings: How to Start a Presentation, Book, Article... by Kathy Sierra
How to Give a Great Presentation by D. Keith Robinson
Seven Steps to Better Presentations by Jeffrey Veen
Anything at Presentation Zen

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Mr. H said...

My students just presented at a Pan Canadian Literacy Forum. The adults in the room were used to the droning recitation from power point slides. These kids got up there and did a great preso and gave the best performance of the conference. When will people get it.

Mike Arsenault said...

I know what you mean. I just attended a conference here in Maine about Arts, Creativity and Innovation. Many of the presenters used bullet point PPT's to show their work. How uninspiring. Thank goodness someone is teaching presentation skills to kids. I do a unit on presentations with a course I teach to pre-service teachers. This event occured at the perfect moment.