It all started 2 years ago when my first grade team and I were teaching about the solar system and realized there was no planetarium for our students to visit. With a little research, material acquisition, making, and a never-give-up attitude we were able to create one of our own. Because of this innovation, we were asked to speak at the EDTECHGZ teacher’s conference. Here is the presentation we created together.
Change It Up
After learning more about presentation design this week, I took some time to really analyze this Sway we created and how it could have been better. Using the Presentation Zen principles, there are many things about this that I would change to better communicate our message and make it more visually appealing and engaging to the audience.
The first thing I would change about this presentation is to use a different application for creating it. Sway is really user friendly and has simple designs, but it is not as customizable as I would like it to be. Instead, I would use a slideshow template on Google Slides, Keynote, or Powerpoint so I could make separate ‘pages’ of information instead of having to scroll to view it.
The next thing I would change are the images we used. We added a lot of personal images we took during the process of the unit and those were ok. However, to find the other images of the solar system, we simply did a Google search. We were not intentional about looking for non-copyrighted images nor did we even cite the sources of them. Looking back at this presentation makes me really regret this faux pa!
One thing we struggled to do in our presentation was to make it more about the audience. In 10 tips for Improving Your Presentations Today by Garr Reynolds he says,
Put the audience first.
Even when we are “telling our story” we are really telling their story. If designed and told well, our story is really their story. Yes, the plot—the events and facts and the order in which they are arranged—may be unique to us, but the theme is universal. The message or the lesson must be accessible and useful for your particular audience. The advice may not be new and it may not sounds exciting, but it’s true: Know your audience.
I feel as though our presentation we created was more of a showcase of our work than giving useful information to our audience that they could put into practice. We had a large focus on our particular experience within a specific content area. Instead, to help the audience transfer it to their own experience, we should have highlighted more of the process we went through to change the unit and less of the final product.
The last thing I would change in this presentation was the amount of text on it and the font of the text. This is one of those things that all people already know they should not do, but for some reason, we all still tend to do it. I think it is because we use the slides as our tool for remembering what to say and so our audience can have the information even after our presentation is done. Garr suggests that instead of adding more text to the slides, you can use the images to help you remember what to say, as well as give a handout at the end to the people who attend so they can still have the information to take home with them. As a result of learning this, if I were to make a change, I would add more images that depict our meaning we need to convey instead of adding more text. I would also extensively plan out what we would say ahead of time and find images to help us remember it. Then I would create a handout or Padlet to share the information instead of giving the people who attended access to our presentation slides. As for the font, I would choose a sans serif (without feet) one because it is much better for reading on screens as I mentioned in a previous blog post of mine.
It has now all come full circle and I will again be speaking at this year’s EDTECHGZ conference on October 27th. Because of this week’s research, I am much more prepared to create a presentation that is engaging and useful for my audience. I also recently purchased the book Presentation Zen so I can learn even more about this topic. I plan on reading it soon because these ideas are so valuable for me to keep in mind from the very beginning of the planning process. I will be posting about my new presentation and how it goes in a later blog post. So be on the look out for it!
Featured image from Unsplash by Jeremy Thomas