From Bland to Grand!

Next week, I will be presenting in Bangkok at the NESA (Near East South Asia) Spring Educator’s Conference. My workshop is based on the Jane Schaffer writing method, a model that I learned years ago when I was teaching HS English teacher in the inner city of Los Angeles. There, my students struggled with the same thing that most other students around the world struggle with: achieving clarity and precision in their writing.

I’ve delivered this presentation a number of times and have, more or less, used the same Google Slides presentation each time. Because I’m presenting at a fairly large conference (it’s a big deal!), I decided I needed to apply the skills we’ve been learning in COETAIL to this presentation.

Here’s the Original Presentation:

The new (and hopefully improved version):

What changes did I make? Lots. And spent a good number of hours perfecting, obsessing and simplifying the design. In a nutshell, I applied the principles of CARP (Contrast, Alignment, Repetition, Proximity) along with the ideas from Presentation Zen, specifically that the content should be “simple, balanced and beautiful.”

I also knew it was too long and I had way too many words on the page. Keeping in mind Brandon Jones’s mantra that “Good visual hierarchy isn’t about wild and crazy graphics or the newest photoshop filters, it’s about organizing information in a way that’s usable, accessible, and logical to the everyday site visitor,” I decided to cut out 6 slides and instead, have that information readily available on a handy-dandy paper hand-out. I figure it’s something tangible that the audience can hang on to. (My presentation is scheduled at 4pm on Friday – the last event of the day, so I have to do everything I can do grab their attention!)

Overall, I think I’m most proud of my new and improved presentation’s simplicity, calm aesthetic and balanced design. I’m excited to try it out!

7 Replies to “From Bland to Grand!”

  1. WOW! I love it! I was that 5th Grade elementary teacher who attend your workshop last year and found it fabulous then! You impacted my teaching of my unit of persuasive so much! As you know I used your recommendations, tweaked them to be Grade 5 appropriate and in turn – had a super successful unit in which students were able to follow a format that was logical, allowed student ownership, due to the use of colour coding,, they were able to self reflect and revise on a regular basis and – producing some fabulous results! I have continued to use this format again this year in both my non fiction essay report and now argumentative essay. Second time round, even better results! Watching your presentation again, I really think it will be a WOW hit no matter what time you are showcasing! It has very engaging visuals which I also found calming due to your choice of images and colours. l liked how you used the colours to highlight key words. The key thing I see is that you, despite having this wonderful presentation, are clearly in control of your ‘teach’. Does your audience get a leaflet/card with the basic outline/rubrics or do you just share the presentation with those who attend? The presentation will be your tool to engage them, but it is you, as it should be, who will be able to hook your audience in and share your knowledge for the good of those teachers and inevitably, their students! Good Luck!

  2. Hey Miriam,

    I must say, I loved your new and improved presentation! It is definitely going to be a hit! It is clear, concise, and aesthetically appealing! It is obvious you put in a lot of effort into creating this.

    May I suggest something? How about you delete slide 11 and just mention this information while you have your previous slide (some statistics). I think slide 10 is a beautiful slide (aesthetically) and if you mention the information from slide 11, while slide 10 is on presentation mode (just have a quick link to the IB article somewhere on slide 10) I think you will captivate more of the audience as they will not just read the information, instead you will tell them about the case study which I think would be much more effective and engaging. Then, you can jump into the statistics and charts and discuss those. I also liked the graph/statistic slides, it is amazing how much clearer they are, by simply changing the background to all white.

    Well done! I am sure your presentation will be a hit!


  3. Hey Miriam,

    I will jump on the band wagon with Cheryl, Noura and Lindsay to also comment on the awesome changes you have made!

    I remember going to your presentation 3 years ago at our old campus and I was totally enticed and enthralled back then. I liked that you guys gave us time to actually try out the Schaffer Method with a partner! I thought your visuals back then, like Olivia Newton-John and the blueprint were super effective too!

    I remember you and Tyler having amazing chemistry! Dan Pink commented on ‘Play’ as one of the 6 Aptitudes for Success ( and this was well demonstrated in your presentation back then.

    As for your revisions, I really do like comparing the slides between both presentations! Simple text on top of your photos, rearranging slides, making your slides more visual and less text are all things I noticed that make your presentation more visually appealing!

    One thing that I will say is that, all the changes and revisions to a presentation, couldn’t help someone improve their ability to actually present! You already have this down! Your ability to hold my attention and keep me interested was a testament to you and not your presentation slides. The fact that you have amazing slides to accompany you now…is just gravy!

    Break a leg in Bangkok!!!

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