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Developing Effective Presentation Slide Decks

Developing Effective Presentation Slide Decks

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Published by LaDonna Coy
The e-guide is a condensed reference guide to developing effective presentation slide decks through the learning lens of virtual learning, communications, marketing and design. In addition, the guide offers where to find photos/images, lists several exemplars and mentions the advantages of creative commons.
The e-guide is a condensed reference guide to developing effective presentation slide decks through the learning lens of virtual learning, communications, marketing and design. In addition, the guide offers where to find photos/images, lists several exemplars and mentions the advantages of creative commons.

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Published by: LaDonna Coy on Dec 16, 2008
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/28/2010

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Condensed Reference e-Guide
. . . And Making them Social
 
Developing Effective Presentation Slide Decks
If we remain attached to our past, we can’t learn anything new.--Garr Reynolds 
 
PowerPoint
can be 
a powerful tool for communicating concepts and ideas.
So, what’s up with all the criticism of it these days? Why do we see slide shows titled,Death by PowerPoint? Why do you suppose there’s 5,000 presentationsonSlidesharedevoted to PowerPoint? When’s the last time you saw a PowerPoint presentation that stuck with you --one that made a difference in how you think about or do your work?
Once upon a time
trainers and presenters were excited about and happy with this tool (software) called, PowerPoint.It came with built-in templates for font type and size, structure, color and backgrounds and made the job of preparing a presentation much quicker than preparing overheads. All we had to do was open a template, add our data, pop in afew pieces of clip art and, like magic, done. We could even print the slides as handout too. But over time, the new became status quo.
 Then several things changed.
Not so much with the software but with other related capacities that expanded what was possible to accomplish. Storage capabilities increased dramatically. Bandwidth increased. Creative Commonscame along for free images and illustrations. Further, the research on learning, especially virtual learning, got muchbetter and the reality of the power of stories came to the forefront. Together, the learning landscape has shifted. It’stime for us to learn some new ways to communicate with participants better - in ways that engage, touch the emotions,and are memorable.
 The problem isn’t actually with PowerPoint
as a software application but more about how we’ve grownaccustomed to using it. We were limited for so long that we fell into a rut. I’m guilty - I confess. I have not only subjected audiences to bullet points and clip art but I’ve also taught others to make this same fatal mistake. But nomore. There are better ways.
 A breath of fresh air
 While PowerPoint software hasn’t changed all that much, what we’ve learned about learning and the brain haschanged ... a lot. Current thinking is pushing us far beyond our former practices into new ones that facilitatecommunications and learning. More and more web-based learning, training and presentations (webinars, courses) are
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available in real time and recorded for use anytime. Rich learning platforms are emerging enabling us to be more intentional aboutdeveloping slides that communicate - that tell a story. Visuals are becoming more available and affordable including no-cost creative commons licensed images, illustrations, video and audio. PowerPoint integrates these widely availablemultimedia elements.
One more step ... into Social Media
In times past our PowerPoint slides have been primarily for the face-to-face (F2F) environment - mostly conferencesand events. The alternative for sharing the slides was to provide the slides in the form of a handout or send them outas an email attachment. The latter opened up issues like storage, file size and bandwidth. Email attachments take up alot of space - even more when we think about how many email servers hold the message
and 
attachments plusrecipients often download the file to their own hard drive. Then there’s the problem of finding the file months later,right?
Social media is changing that.
Social Media is the collection of web-based sites that encourage participation andpeople-generated content e.g.,Facebook ,Flickr, YouTube, etc. Technology advances, among other things, have made putting slides online easy and often free. Once online we can be our own distributors by placing a link in an email (sothere’s no attachment) or embedding the slides on websites, blogs andsocial netw orks. Web-basedapplications like Slideshare (  www.slideshare.net ) and Sliderocket (  www.sliderocket.com ) or Scribd (  www.scribd.com ) make sharing slide decks AND handouts easy. Basic accounts are free. One “green” side effect is that far less printed material is neededand people have more access and availability online to remix into new creations.
 A few things we’ve learned about the brain, learning and presenting
 This e-guide condenses the wisdom of several resources. The idea is to support developing more effective slide decksby including research and best practices from virtual learning, communications. marketing and design.
Our brains are wired for novelty.
 We notice things that are unusual or surprising. Bullet points are anything butnovel. And yet with standard PowerPoint, by design, we are encouraged to use bullet points. Luckily, you can also insertimages, video, and even flash files into PowerPoint.
Our working memory can only process a limited amount of information
. When we have a lot of text on a slide we are contributing to what Ruth Colvin Clark refers to as
cognitive load 
. Cognitive load is basically how hard our working memory has to work to learn. It can come from the level of difficulty of the content, the way it is organizedor displayed and the mental processes required to reach a learning goal.
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