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Presentations (DESI 222 Lecture 2 Aug)

August 5, 2010

Slide Transparency by Gisela Giardino (CCBYSA)

The audio recording of this lecture can be played and downloaded from here (The graphic that I discussed at the start can be found here – thanks, Jessica). During the next two lectures (Monday August 9 and 16) DESI 222 students will be giving short talks to present their work-to-date relating to their education intervention. We will be using the Pencha-Kucha format, which limits presenters to 20 slides, with each on the screen for 20 seconds. Check out the Pecha Kucha homepage for more information about this format, and have a look at the related events events, news, and media reports. This website publishes a list of Pecha-Kucha presentations that are scheduled to take place in the near future. Take some time to examine the presentation that have been uploaded to get a sense of what others have done. During the lecture, I played and discussed a popular talk about Ideapreneurs, which was presented by by Richard Adams at a Pech-Kucha event in London.  It was uploaded on 17th January 2010 and has been viewed 4764 times. DESI436  and SCOM 407 students gave Pecha Kucha presentations as part of their course work, and you can see a blog post about these presentations here, and another post about the advantages of the constraints of the 20 x 20 format here.

We usually associate presentations with PowerPoint (or Keynote, which uses the same slide metaphor). PowerPoint has its critics. One article that was published in the New York Times in 2003 argues that PowerPoint Makes You Dumb. A more recent article declares that “We Have Met the Enemy and He Is PowerPoint“. A post with links relating to this article can be found here. When the NYT published this article, they also created an educational resource with a critical discussion about PowerPoint with related links. To see how bullet points can strip the life out of a message, compare Barak Obama’s “Yes We Can” speech, as he delivered it, to a PowerPoint version.

The problem, of course, is not PowerPoint itself, but its inappropriate use and poor design. You can see examples of well designed digital slide shows at the Note and Point website. During the lecture, I showed and discussed a presentation about “The Education Gap“, which I downloaded from this site.  Many examples of slideshows (some poorly designed but many worth seeing) can be viewed and downloaded from the SlideShare website. I showed and discussed a slide show titled “25 Basic Styles of Blogging“. What makes some presentations more popular than others? Which of these make sense without the presence and voice of the presenter? How would you approach the design of a presentation if it was going to be uploaded and viewed without your voice? Can the same presentation work offline and online without alteration? How does the presentation technology influence the design of a presentation and the experience of the audience?  To what degree is the medium the message?

For some good articles on the appropriate use and design of digital slideshows (and information graphics, his specialty), see Edward Tufte’s website. His article on “The cognitive style of Powerpoint” is well known. Tufte related articles include “PowerPoint Does Rocket Science–and Better Techniques for Technical Reports” and “Lousy PowerPoint presentations: The fault of PP users?

The slide metaphor is slowly giving way to other ways of thinking about presentations that are not limited by our familiarity with a fixed sequence of static screens. For one example, see the Prezi website, and have a look at the presentation called “Why should you move beyond slides?“, and the one about the Power of Storytelling. For a full-blooded experience of powerful storytelling, sample some of the popular talks at the TED Talks website. One of the Top Ten Talks was presented by Ken Robinson, who argued that schools kill creativity.

When viewing these presentation (and those of your peers) think about the following:

How successful and compelling is the narrative?

Was the delivery strong, confident, and well prepared?

How well chosen and designed are the individual slides?

Can the results be published without copyright violations?


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