Easy, PZ, Beautiful

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So in my enthusiasm over Garr Reynolds' new book, I found myself this semester volunteering to conduct something of a workshop on incorporating visuals into one's presentations. So that workshop will be partly just a hands-on exploration of Keynote--most of us being diehard Mac users--but also partly a little bit of talking head (me) discussing some of the rules of thumb that I tend to go by.

Of course, making those rules explicit is proving to be more tricky. So I'm going to use this as a placeholder for the next couple of days, and add to it as I think of stuff. You are more than welcome to add some comments. The overarching question: What should our students learn/know about delivering good presentations? (There's already an embedded, highly questionable assumption there, namely that good presentations include PP or KN decks. I know, I know.) Okay, so maybe my actual question is: What should our students know about designing hybrid (visual/verbal) presentations?

(That is all for the moment. More on the way, and perhaps even a screencast if I get ambitious.)


Two useful practices for more effective presentations are not to read off the screen, and not to put very many words on any given slide. Slides are reminders, not scripts. The visual interest of pictures or diagrams, as long as they really work with the content, is usually better than a lot of words, but don't stuff in images that don't contribute.

I assume you've come across Edward Tufte's treatise on Powerpoint?

Both points I plan on making...

Reynolds criticizes what he calls "sliduments" and argues against all but a very select usage for bullet points.

And yeah, I have like 5 copies of Tufte's piece squirreled away in boxes, drawers, and folders. ;-)

One of the tricks for us, I think, is that our field is so relentlessly textual--I've think I've personally witnessed nearly all the fallacies: long quotes on screen, packed bullet lists, etc. I even saw a presentation where the speaker read from the screen, spending more time facing away from the audience than towards us!

I can't recommend Reynolds enough--what's good about his book is the wealth of positive examples. He doesn't just bemoan the negs...

Thanks, Andrea!


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This page contains a single entry by cgbrooke published on March 12, 2008 1:30 AM.

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