Past – Present – Perfect?

Simple, but not simplistic

As a technology coordinator I give a lot of presentations.  I think that people always expect my presentations to be cutting edge with a fancy slideshow – they aren’t… (sorry). My presentations are often simplistic and to the point.  I want the focus to be the skill or information that I want to get across.  This generally means that I need the screen to demonstrate, this means that any slideshow is likely to get switched off.  In fact, for a while in the past I specifically did not use a slideshows.  It was after a seminar at the BETT conference in London.  I watched the whole seminar, watching the screen intently – mesmerised.  What was the seminar about? No idea, not a clue.  It was the first time I had ever seen the use of Prezi!  It took me the whole presentation to try to figure out how it was made.  It was engaging and well made, fantastic if the presenter was trying to sell Prezi – they had the use and understanding of the software down to a ‘T’, terrible as they were trying to demo some other software and make sales.  Were there any questions at the end of the presentation? Yes – what software did you use to make the slideshow? The room signed a breath of relief and left – no doubt to download Prezi!!  It was at this point that I realised that the time I was spending on making my presentations look amazingly fancy, was time I could have been spending on making the content of my presentation better.  Perhaps the time has come to readdress my stance (or dislike for slideshows where people flash up a metric ton of images and writing and talk at the same time) and look at some recent presentations moving them from simplistic to simple.  Garr Reynolds talked about this 4 yrs before my Prezi epiphany (an epiphany that I am sure was responsible for a great deal of motion sickness in my classrooms).  He talked about the distinction between a simple presentation and a simplistic one.

Simplicity is often used as a means to greater clarity. However, simplicity can also be viewed as a consequence. A consequence, that is, of our careful efforts to craft a story and create supporting visuals that focus on our audience’s needs in a clear and meaningful way. Ok, simplicity is great you say, but how simple? What is the formula for simplicity?

Based on Reynolds ideas on Presentation Zen I took a presentation that I made for a conference: ‘Creating Connections 2017: Social and Emotional Support for Multicultural/International Children in Japan’ and made some subtle changes to it.  The first set of slides are plain and to the point.  I try not to distract from my message and so I often set out to use black and white, or one or two background colours, with simple images.  The images are taken from the Noun Project, my favourite place to find icons for a variety of purposes at the moment.  As I work with children from a multitude of cultures and nationalities I find that their clean and clear images do not clutter the page, or distract from the text.  The Noun project have a great tagline too,

Creating, sharing and celebrating the world’s visual language.

On reflection when reading through the 6 presentation principles as detailed by Reynolds, I definitely do not have too much “powerpoint design’ in these slide, however this makes the slides look a little boring or as if they were complied at the last minute.  I do believe that each of the images that I have selected do tell the story of the presentation.  When thinking about the information to include and exclude I had to really think about the audience and the time I had to get my point across.  I picked out several key ideas and used these to support the information I gathered from discussion with students about social media and their experiences. Overall, the slideshow was rather simplistic and didn’t seem to project the image of young people and their engagement with social media.

I considered several different themes and backgrounds, How to make your Google Presentations Shine, from Shake Up Learning  was extremely helpful in directing me towards some new and more professional themes.  I decided on this notebook theme as it was visually more appealing and reminded me of a student’s notebook.  I kept the text and the images that same as they really worked for me.

After some research and interesting reading on design and death by powerpoint I may be persuaded to put more effort and thought into the design of each slide. I don’t think that I an ready for animations and transitions, but is anyone?

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One Response to Past – Present – Perfect?

  1. Ryan Harwood says:

    Ahh Prezi. So neat, yet so nauseating. I remember my first interactions with it as well. Very similar to yours. Then it made it into the classroom and kids thought it was a great new tool. I’ve seen some pretty fantastic uses of it, but most of the time, you’re right, its simply powerpoint with the bonus of motion sickness. Now you can be bored and nauseas at a presentation!

    Love the updates to your slides. I also love the originals too. It would be interesting to get student feedback about the two. I wonder which students would prefer for learning. Either way the images are great. I need to investigate the noun project again.

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