The Problems With Presentations
We all know that it isn’t always easy to get through to your students, especially since everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. Trying to present material in a way that is understandable to everyone is hard, but trying to make it interesting on top of that presents yet another challenge.
So why not try using a slideshow presentation? Keynote and PowerPoint are widely used tools in the business world, so perhaps we can take a page from them and spice up the classroom a bit.
Learning to use these new tools might seem daunting, so we have a few tips for putting together a presentation so that your audience is engaged with the material and can learn from what you’re showing them.
Make it Dynamic
Words on a plain page are boring. If all you’re going to do is put a few words on the page, they’re not going to be any more interested in it than they would be if they were reading a textbook.
Using contrasting and complementary colors and graphics to highlight important points can help draw your students’ eyes to what you want them to see. When applicable, a photo, video, charts and diagrams can convey the information you need in a more interesting, engaging way than just words.
Simple and Succinct Are Good
With all that said, don’t overload your presentation with all the ‘stuff” that the programs offer. Using too many fonts, colors, transitions, sounds, and animations will draw the students’ eyes away from the important information. Don’t cram all of your charts and graphs onto one slide, and all of your images on another. You’re not paying for each slide, so don’t be afraid to use more slides with less information on each.
Keep the amount of information on each slide to a minimum – a good rule of thumb is no more than 6 lines per slide and 7 words per line. Finding a cohesive ‘theme’ for your presentation is important. Use the colors, fonts, and backgrounds you’ve implemented on your first slide throughout the presentation.
Focused = Student Centered
The good thing about true classroom discussions (as opposed to lectures) is that as students talk and ideas are elaborated, the discussion can go in a number of different and important directions. However, that is not what you want in your presentation! Long paragraphs of text and lists of topics not directly related to what the slide is about draws your students’ focus away from the material.
A better bet would be to think of the slide as an outline or starting point for discussion, and let the conversation happen naturally from there. Both Keynote and PowerPoint have functions to add ‘notes’ for the presenter, so if you’re afraid you won’t remember certain things you wanted to touch on as part of the larger topic, the notes section is the best place for them.
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