Presentation Needs
Dozen Design Ideas
Instructional Strategies
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Explore a Dozen Design Ideas
Learning to use desktop presentation software such as Microsoft PowerPoint is only a small part of presentation design. The hard part is selecting the content, designing the learning experience, and producing efficient, effective, and appealing presentation materials. Design easy if you stick to a couple well-known ideas.
KISS. Keep it short and simple. In other words, under do rather than over doing. You don't need to try all the fonts, styles, sounds, and transitions. Instead, stick to a simple, effective design. Then, add emphasis such as color or transitions to create specific instructionally relevant effects. In other words, use color to emphasize a word or use a transition to disclosure the answer to a question.
CCC. Clutter creates confusion. When it comes to presentation design, more is not usually better. You're better off with extra white space than an irrelevant piece of clipart that could be distracting. Choose fewer words rather than more words. Choose a closely cropped photograph than a cluttered distance shot. Less is usually more effective when working with presentations. Remember that you're the teacher, not your materials.
Let's explore a dozen ideas for designing effective desktop presentations.
1 - Design a Learning Experience
Before you start typing in lecture notes, consider the learning experience you want to design. How will you gain the attention of your students and excite them about your topic? Remember that most people become distracted after 10 minutes of lecture. Consider ways to actively involve your students in learning. Explore the following four components of an effective instructional presentation:
  • Introduction
  • Information Exploration
  • Active Involvement
  • Closure
Introduction. The beginning of your presentation should gain the attention of your learners and establish the purpose. Consider ways to make the content relevant to your learners by connecting the purpose with a specific student need. Rather than stressing the importance of the topic on the upcoming test, provide an example of how the information might be useful in everyday life. You need a hook or springboard to motivate. Peak student interest through providing specific situations, quotations, statistics, songs, photographs, diagrams, or poetry related to the topic. This can set the stage for your presentation. End your introduction with an preview or overview of the rest of the presentation.
Information Exploration. You've probably got lots of content to "cover." However keep in mind that students can only digest so much at a time. Keep the chunks of information small. Weight the need for information with the importance of processing information. We often spend a majority of our time on shoveling information and leave little time for applying these ideas. Think of ways to help students process information. For example, link new ideas to prior knowledge. This way students can connect ideas without having to create a whole new area in their mind for the concept. Share new ideas like you would share candy. Generate enthusiasm by providing lots of examples and nonexamples students can can draw on for help in understanding the content.
Active Involvement. When people sit passively, it's easy for their minds to wander. Keep students engaged by guiding the learning experience rather than directing the learning experience. In other words, use active questioning techniques, discussion points, and other strategies to keep students on task. Help students draw meaning from the presentation by asking them to solve problems or give examples. Interact with your students through specific activities that require practice and feedback. In other words, get students think and do.
Closure. Before the bell rings, be sure that students have a handle on the presentation's key ideas. Review and reinforce the key ideas. Apply these new concepts to new situations or examples. Discuss how you will follow-through with additional information, practice, and connections to the next activity. Give students a reason to remember.
2 - Choose Good Topics
As you look at your unit or course consider those places where a presentation might be useful. Sometimes a book, video, or diagram may be as useful as an hour lecture. Focus on essential questions that show relationships, processes, or procedures. Consider the need to reinforce key points. Ask yourself: What needs lots of examples, different perspectives, or multiple channels (see, hear, taste, touch). Is there a need for consensus or class discussion? What content requires critical or creative thinking? What's difficult to learn? These questions will help you decide whether a desktop presentation is a good choice for this topic.
3 - Develop a Theme
A theme can make your presentation look more professional by providing a standard look and feel for all the slides. The layout, fonts, and graphics all work together to create a visual statement. This statement may be serious, lively, silly, or engaging depending on your treatment of large elements such as the text and graphics or more subtle designs including font, color, and transition selections. Your choices should be related to the "look and feel" of the layout rather than whether you simply like or dislike a particular color or font. You can use a template provided in your software or create your own bringing in your own colors and graphics that match your theme.
Spend some time examining the templates provided with PowerPoint. Think about what content you would put with particular templates.
4 - Simplify
Information overload is a common presentation problem. Chunk related ideas into separate slides rather than trying to cramp everything onto one visual. Present one concept at a time. Some people like to build their presentation as an outline. If you're having a difficult time getting organized, consider using a software package such as Inspiration to create a visual diagram of your content before starting your presentation. Once you have the basic information, add good examples for clarification. This may mean separating ideas into additional slides, but it's worth the time. Now, go back and cut out extra words. Eliminate sentences in favor of phrases that start with active verbs.
5 - Organize Slide
Logical sequence
Preview & review
6 - Follow Design Principles
Simplicity Unity
Emphasis Balance
7 - Watch the Fonts
No more than two…
font types
font sizes 48, 36
font colors - black, purple
font styles - bold, italics
8 - Select Appropriate Graphics
Make good choices
Cutesy vs Serious
Line drawing vs Photograph
Fun vs Authentic
Reinforce key points
Associate with text
Orient Graphics
Face-in screen placement
Provide white space
Focus Graphics
Provide the setting
Zoom in for detail
9 - Incorporate Charts & Graphs
Tables for numeric data
Line charts for trends
Bar charts for comparisons
Pictorials for associations
Pie charts for relative sizes
10 - Use Progressive Disclosure
Build a series of points
Show a sequence of events
Explore parts of a whole
Design lists
Numbers, Letters, Bullets, Dingbats
11 - Use Speaker Notes
Background information
Question and Answer
Step-by-step instructions
Problem to solve
12 - Alternatives
Handouts Transparencies
Document Camera Videotape
Slides Web Pages

Proceed to the next section called Instructional Strategies.

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Created by Annette Lamb, 02/02.