GTA NYC Reflection – Part 2: Presentations

This is the second (of four) posts reflecting on my experience leading the Google Teacher Academy in NYC on November 18th. You’ll probably notice a few themes reappear here again: Innovation, Inspiration, and Passion.

We included several presentations throughout the day, but my own were in the early morning segments. I lead (and in parts co-presented) the Welcome and Overview presentations. These have evolved (and I think improved) at each GTA. Recently I’ve been asked more often to lead sessions on how to present, so I was able to re-evaluate the slides (and performance) from a fresh perspective… and a few things stood out for me this time around.

Like welcome activities, presentations are improved when the creator is clear about their purpose. A presentation meant to inform can be very different than a presentation meant to inspire. In my case I had to alternate between both, so it helped to know the purpose of each slide or segment of the presentation.

Regardless of the purpose, I think most presentations need to do the following in order to be effective:

  • Provide *meaningful* visuals, including images, charts, and graphs
  • Keep it simple: Though they can be effective in moderation or when used by a master… builds, animations, and sounds almost always detract from a slide. And anything that is confusing for a participant to understand or look at detracts from the presentation.
  • Include anecdotes that illustrate important points
  • Engage participants emotions or passions

I’m still far short of where I want to be in terms of the use of visual elements, but I think I do well at keeping it simple, including anecdotes, and engaging participants on an emotional level. But.. each time I see a few too many bullets or a few too many text slides, I don’t break out of the rutt until I return to one of these methods to break me out of it. Consistently reminding myself of the need to rise to that next level is important – and the more of it I include in my “system” of creating presentations, the better. There’s no reason including passion can’t be a check box on your presentation to do list. ;)

I hope to put this system into explicit practice in future GTAs and other professional development events. In the meantime, I’d love to hear your feedback about what makes a good presentation – I know there’s plenty of it to be had.

Incidentally, here’s a workshop wiki for a recent “Presentations in Education” workshop I did at the ILC Conference in San Jose:

I hope you might find some of the resources valuable… and if you know of some I didn’t include, I hope you’ll share those in the comments here as well. :)