Zen & the Art of Presentation Maintenance.

While reading through this week’s various articles and presentations, there was one idea repeated throughout – simplicity. I started thinking about my own design inclinations: jazzy, showy, colorful and busy. Basically the opposite of simple. I needed to do some serious weeding of my Google slides garden.

Looking back through my presentations, though, I decided to pick one that is actually lacking in visual aesthetics and errs on the side of basic & boring. This presentation needs some work, particularly in, as blogger Garr Reynolds refers to them, the areas of “Empathy” & “Play“. Reynolds believes that with empathy, the expert designer has “the ability to put themselves in the position of the user, the customer, or the audience member.” Being able to view my presentation through the eyes of my teenaged audience is key and will ultimately determine my efficacy as a teacher.

For the design area of Empathy, I would update the theme – make it more colorful, bold and eye-catching. I think I would alternate the use of images for whole backgrounds and include more block quotes than long lists of bullet-pointed text. (The ultimate in “Death by Power-Point“)

Garr also notes the positive effects in adding elements of “Play” into presentations. In his discussion of the power of laughter, Garr quotes the Indian Physician Madan Kataria:

“Laughing people are more creative people. They are more productive people.” 

The take-away? Laughter IS the best medicine! And when the audience is full of teenagers who want to be anywhere but in the classroom? Providing little moments of humor in a presentation can be the difference between blank stares and drooping lids to actively engaged learners. Looking back through this presentation, I can see that I need to be more purposeful in integrating those little moments of humor, whether in the form of a light-hearted slide or in my own presentation notes.

Now, back to work on weeding that garden…

Photo Credit: Deposit Photos via Creative Commons

2 Replies to “Zen & the Art of Presentation Maintenance.”

  1. I discovered Presentation Zen a few years ago when researching for teaching materials for the TOK Presentation. I actually learned about through a fellow Coetailer–Rebekah Madrid (https://rebekahmadrid.wordpress.com/). I was super inspired and tried to get my students to go for it in their TOK presentations, but it’s hard! It’s hard to simplify a presentation to a unifying story, and choose only the very best images to accompany a story.

    Thinking about revising presentations is hard for me, because I hardly do them! But I think you’re right–simplicity is key. But don’t be too hard on yourself and your fonts, as they are still awesome. 🙂

  2. Hi Miriam,

    I decided to make a point of reading through your week 3 post since I know you are working on a similar task as me with the NESA conference around the corner. I too feel like the presentation I will be using is a little dull and is definitely lacking many of the aspects of presentation zen. Simplicity was also the main aspect that caught my attention that I will be focusing on, but unlike what you were saying, I actually need to be a little bit more “jazzy and colorful”, since the presentation I am working on has really nothing visually or aesthetically engaging about it at all. This is where my focus on creativity can hopefully improve.

    The part of your post that has been the most thought provoking for me is where you discuss Garr Reynolds ideas of ‘empathy and and play’. Something I will focusing on in my presentation is definitely being more creative and engaging to my “Math people” audience, but I haven’t thought about how beneficial it will be to include some humor. I’m not sure how great I am at “Math humor” yet, but it will be something I will definitely be attempting. Another comment I liked from your post that I need to think more about is how well my ongoing, weekly presentations in class are suited for my grade 7 audience. I tend to focus most of my attention on getting the content of the presentation across as clearly as possible for this age group, but now I’m wondering how much further it will go if I focus on the age level of my audience more in terms of actual empathizing with these particular students and putting myself in their shoes.

    Thanks Miriam and best of luck with your garden!

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