I've spent the last four days working pretty much non-stop on two final presentations. Up until I started this graduate program, I really hadn't used Powerpoint or Keynote very much, as a presenter or a teacher. But the slideshow format has been extremely popular with my instructors, giving me some time to fine-tune my skills and thoughts about the use of this tool. What I realized first, actually it was just reinforced, I already thought it, was that slides can be the most agonizing method of presenting information when they're full of bullet-points that get read back to you.
Luckily, I remembered a book that Howard Levin mentioned in a session at this year's Kamehameha technology conference in Honolulu: Presentation Zen. Promptly, I bought the book and started reading. I love the guidelines about not asking people to read slides and listen at the same time, including no more than six words per slide, and using high quality images that demonstrate ideas. Finally, Reynolds explains that if you don't need to be there to explain the slides, the material shouldn't be communicated in the form of a presentation.
What I've learned and practiced has me excited to bring presentations into my curriculum. Working on my own presentation has been the perfect critical thinking exercise, the decisions about the precision of words, the search for just the right image to convey emotion and idea, not to mention that preparedness to speak that all this preparation instills. And I'm wondering if there are others out there that use presentations as this kind of thinking exercise?