Design, Presentations

Presenting At It’s Best

So I have to start with a nod to my Yokohama colleague, Jamie.  We seem to be living in a somewhat parallel universe these days!  Jamie recently updated his resumeso did I.  Jamie has shared today his evolution from PowerPoint to Zen in presentation = and I am about to do the same!

I was recently at the NAIS Annual Conference in Seattle for a day.  Not one of the presenters who ‘spoke’ to me there used a PowerPoint.  They began by making a human connection, perhaps showing some photos or video footage to engage my attention and help me relate and possibly later (as a nod to conformity) threw up a few slides. The other people I saw (bigger group) punched through their slides like maniacs, reading the data off them, punching through faster, reading faster, skipping over some (what was on it??) and ultimately ended with ‘you can download the PowerPoint from the NAIS website“. Really?  I thought the purpose of conferences was to engage with people and connect with others?

Now, this might be all a matter of personal opinion.  I went to one such workshop  and was less than inspired by the totally uncreative, old-school presentation.  I was also somewhat surprised to hear another participant describe it as “the best thing he has ever experienced!”.  Was the content good?  Yes. Delivery?  Not so much.  I don’t think it helps that if you look at the guidelines for being an NAIS presenter, your visual options are PowerPoint or PowerPoint.

So, what are the alternatives?

I am a huge fan of the Pecha Kucha format of presenting.

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public.
It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace. – PechaKucha website

If you try it, you will see it is actually really hard to limit yourself to only speak for such a short period of time BUT it really does help you cut out the unnecessary and allow you more time to connect with your audience after the ‘formal’ presentation.  Most of us know within 4 minutes if something is worth more of our time.  If not, no harm done – only a few minutes ‘lost’.  If it is, go connect, ask questions, engage, discuss, collaborate with that person.  One of my biggest struggles at NAIS was committing to a workshop based on a vague description and finding out 4 minutes into it that it really wasn’t for me but uncomfortable about slipping out.

We recently introduced the PYP Exhibition to our parents.  We downloaded a fairly generic ‘intro to the exhibition’ PowerPoint and proceeded to tweak a few words to ‘make it our own’.  My own worst nightmare was about to come true as I knew we would find ourselves doing a read aloud to the parents…arrrghhh!

I took the slides, gutted out their main points, shuffled them around, culled, combined and settled on twenty ideas.  These ideas became pictures.  Those pictures became slides and our new presentation was born.  I tried setting the timer for 20 seconds per slide but I sounded like a chipmunk on high speed trying to say everything so I settled for around 40 seconds per slide.  We did one run-through with our principal, one with our kids and then the ‘real deal’ with the parents – and it was really good!

I think the pictures engaged the parents, they reminded me visually what I needed to say without having to have any notecards as pictures instead of words really works for me so I was able to talk from one slide to the next in a relaxed and natural way.  What I have also noticed, is that when parents and kids have asked me questions, I find myself answering them through the pictures: “Remember the slide with all the question marks and then the one big question mark that represented your exhibition idea?  We are still in the ‘lots of question marks’ part where you are thinking of all the possibilities for your unit”. Conversely, parents have asked me questions through the pictures “So that One Man Band – what do they really need to be doing?”

I put the presentation together in Keynote but have recently zipped that file and uploaded it to SlideShare.  This is how it looks:

I then, thanks to Jamie, discovered SlideRocket and downloaded it as a Google App.  I see they also offer free accounts for Educators and Students as part of Google Apps for Education – something I know nothing about but am interested in pursuing further as that could be a really great option for online sharing.  Here is how the SlideRocket version turned out.  NOTE: I had to create the presentation again in SlideRocket as it is not compatible with Keynote which is odd as it is almost exactly like Keynote and Keynote users will have no trouble using it online:

The need for this presentation arose because firstly, we didn’t have one and secondly, it was one of the requirements of the PYP Workshop on the Exhibition.  For that assignment, I submitted a Prezi but I was not happy with it despite getting a lot of positive feedback.  I felt like it was a Keynote on a roller coaster and the whole thing made me a little nauseous by about half way through it. See for yourself (you have been warned!):

I love Prezi but am still a novice at really focusing on it’s zooming capabilities.  If you read the book Zoom before starting, I think it will help you with that focus and result in a much better ‘zoomed’ presentation.

Regardless of your tool, think about what you like in a presentation.  Better yet, think of it as less of a ‘presentation’ and more of a ‘conversation’ – it will be better for everyone!  Alternatively you could PRESENT NAKED.

P.S. If you are curious to know what the ‘bullet points’ were for each of the slides we used in our presentation to parents, a summary for parents was posted on my class blog.

4 thoughts on “Presenting At It’s Best”

  1. Very cool synchronicity Sonya! I was surprised at the same thing with Sliderocket, but I found that as it’s easy enough to export Keynote files as Powerpoint, and then upload them to Sliderocket, it makes for an easy enough middle-man step. Btw, you should have a look at some of the Pecha Kucha event materials we’ve been putting together at YIS over the past two years:

    All cleaned up at the end of the night
    Great to see your thinking. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I noticed that too – with Keynote and PowerPoint – when I was helping a friend downsize his PP by exporting to Keynote to ‘reduce file size’ and then sending back again. Nice that they work well together. Thanks for the YIS links. I have heard great things about BTG since I left and it looks like a lot of fun. I am hoping some of my kids will go that route when presenting their Exhibition projects.

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