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kamaz
2010-Nov-27, 10:56 PM
He copied and pasted the relevant Wiki article [on the slides]

I'm just curious: how much text did he manage to put on one slide?

Paul Beardsley
2010-Nov-27, 11:08 PM
I'm just curious: how much text did he manage to put on one slide?

Far, far more than you should put on a slide. At a guess, well in excess of 50 words.

I prepared a lesson on presentation. My main point is that you should work the medium to its strengths. By all means use PowerPoint for visual presentations, animations even more so. OTOH if it's got to be text, then give your audience handouts.

For example: if you are doing an artist, then do his work as PowerPoint, but do his life as Word. I use Edward Hopper as an example. I have one slide that consists of a wodge of unreadable text, and one of his paintings squeezed into a corner. This is an example of a presentation that doesn't work. I then move on to slides that are pleasant to look at - examples of his paintings with no text other than a brief caption giving the work's title and maybe date which the student can enjoy during the lesson. Hopefully the audience will be interested enough to read the biographical notes in the comfort of their rooms in the evening.

kamaz
2010-Nov-27, 11:32 PM
This site on presentation design may be of interest: http://www.garrreynolds.com/Presentation/slides.html
Also, the author has a blog here: http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/

Paul Beardsley
2010-Nov-28, 05:35 AM
This site on presentation design may be of interest: http://www.garrreynolds.com/Presentation/slides.html
Also, the author has a blog here: http://www.presentationzen.com/presentationzen/

Thanks for that, kamaz. Excellent stuff. I've bookmarked it.

Two specific responses:

1. The article is about PowerPoint as a presentation tool, used solely to support the presenter and not replace him or her. But of course it can be useful in other ways - a standalone deliverer of teaching, for instance, or an information source in a museum.

2. I broadly agree that the presenter should not read out chunks of text, but I think it's okay to do so a) when a point needs emphasising, and b) to let the audience know which bit you are talking about. The one rule I would add is, Either read the text or don't, but do not reword it. If the title says, "Problems in the factory environment," do not say, "This concerns issues in the envronment of the factory."

Otherwise I agree totally.

I think the possibilities of animation are worth exploring. Some mathematical concepts can be conveyed well by this means. For instance, the properties of vectors can be illustrated by moving them around.

Is it worth asking the mods to split this off into a discussion about presentation? I think it could be useful.

Tobin Dax
2010-Nov-28, 05:58 AM
I think the possibilities of animation are worth exploring. Some mathematical concepts can be conveyed well by this means. For instance, the properties of vectors can be illustrated by moving them around.

Quite true. I do that in a couple physics lectures.

kamaz
2010-Nov-28, 11:23 AM
1. The article is about PowerPoint as a presentation tool, used solely to support the presenter and not replace him or her. But of course it can be useful in other ways - a standalone deliverer of teaching, for instance, or an information source in a museum.


Yes. The focus is on making presentations in business settings, which is a bit different from teaching. The points about graphic design of slides (so they are easily readable) still stand, though. Most people I know, for example, use the default Times New Roman font on slides. This is bad. The slides should be done with sans-serif fonts, which are more readable. If you don't understand why, make the same slide with both serif and sans-serif fonts and zoom out.



I think the possibilities of animation are worth exploring. Some mathematical concepts can be conveyed well by this means. For instance, the properties of vectors can be illustrated by moving them around.


Careful though -- if you explain the equations, it's best done using a blackboard (or a whiteboard). The reason is that student has to copy the equation, so when you write it on the blackboard, she copies it at more or less the same speed as you write. You then go to explaining the terms, and she notes your explanations. If you have equations on slides, the equation will instantly appear on the screen, and you will start explaining -- so when you are explaining, the student will be busy with copying the formula, and miss your explanation. The worst thing this can lead to (and I've seen that happen too many times) is that the lecturer moves to a next slide before the students can finish copying the equation itself!

Sticks
2010-Nov-28, 02:31 PM
Moved to a new thread about presentation design tips

Solfe
2010-Nov-28, 02:56 PM
My chemistry teacher keeps threatening to do his class lectures in PowerPoint. If I could download a PowerPoint of the lectures that would be great, I wouldn't want to sit through it though.

I think that is main difference between business and teaching, business settings tend to give out hand out from the presentation where teachers would not want to do that as students wouldn't attend. I do like the idea of putting formulas up on a screen for quickness and clarity. My chem teacher does this. He then goes to the blackboard to show how the formula is used. It is a good mix. It saves enough time so that he can show real world data on the screen. When he shows data, he nicely warns us not to copy it unless we want more examples of how the formula is used. Nice plug and chug data for practice.

Paul Beardsley
2010-Nov-28, 03:27 PM
Careful though -- if you explain the equations, it's best done using a blackboard (or a whiteboard). The reason is that student has to copy the equation, so when you write it on the blackboard, she copies it at more or less the same speed as you write. You then go to explaining the terms, and she notes your explanations. If you have equations on slides, the equation will instantly appear on the screen, and you will start explaining -- so when you are explaining, the student will be busy with copying the formula, and miss your explanation. The worst thing this can lead to (and I've seen that happen too many times) is that the lecturer moves to a next slide before the students can finish copying the equation itself!

A very good point. So far, I have not used PowerPoint in my physics lessons, but I will keep that in mind. I usually get a student to talk me through the rearrangement of a formula, so the whiteboard is ideal - it would take far too long to format an equation on the computer, unless I use something like MathCad.

grant hutchison
2010-Nov-28, 03:30 PM
Anyone interested in presenting data should try to take a look at Edward R. Tufte's books:

The Visual Display Of Quantitative Information
Envisioning Information
Visual Explanations
Beautiful Evidence

(I also rather enjoy The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation (http://norvig.com/Gettysburg/).)

Grant Hutchison

kamaz
2010-Nov-28, 04:21 PM
Another problem with the "Power Point culture" is a custom to use printouts of slides as meeting minutes. This conflicts with the "minimum text" approach, because the slides without the accompanying narration become incomprehensible.

Garr Reynols (site linked above) says that this is a bad slide:
http://www.garrreynolds.com/images/Top10_Gifs/Slide_2.jpg
this is a better one:
http://www.garrreynolds.com/images/Top10_Gifs/Slide_G.jpg
and this is best:
http://www.garrreynolds.com/Presentation/images/72percent.jpg

Problem is, if you want to use printout of the slides as a reference for people who didn't attend the meeting (or as archival documentation), then the first is actually the best one, and the last one is completely incomprehensible: "72% what?".

Presentation gurus say that this can be bypassed by preparing another version of presentation accompanied with notes, but this means extra work. Most people (myself included) are too lazy for that; so I do put more text then necessary on slides when I know that they are supposed to be archived. In fact, I've sat through hundreds of presentations, and I have met two speakers, who would prepare handouts with accompanying text written down. Incidentally, both were female.

Swift
2010-Nov-28, 06:02 PM
I do agree about keeping text to a small amount, but for either handouts or on the screen, I think the middle of those three is the best. For either a reader or a listener, the last one says nothing.

I hate to say it, but you do need to give some info on your slides (at least in a business setting), because sometimes people get distracted and need to be able to get back into what you are talking about. Looking up at the last slide tells you nothing.

I also will say that I have not seen Powerpoint presentations converted to print handouts much lately. More often, you might get a copy of the presentation itself, either on a disk, on your thumb drive, or sent to you electronically. But again, it points out the need for at least some information content on the slide.

Next slide please..... ;)

a1call
2010-Nov-28, 06:51 PM
There is an app for that with positive comments. You might want to take a look at the free app in apple store called "Presenter Pro".

Hlafordlaes
2010-Nov-28, 07:57 PM
I've done my share of presentations (business). As I learned to become a better public speaker, the slides (if any) contained less and less, as in post 11. But the best presentation I ever attended was by a fellow plenary speaker in Singapore who had just two hand-drawn graphs on overhead transparencies, delivered with a concise oral presentation. There's a great deal to be said for actually engaging your audience, having them look at you and not a projection, crediting them the ability to take notes of whatever they feel is worthwhile. Since some folks feel a presentation is not complete without Powerpoint, it got to the point that all my 4-5 slides (for 60 min. talks) were simply pictures.

I rarely used slides for teaching, and then only for things it would take too long or were impossible to get up on the chalkboard.

GeorgeLeRoyTirebiter
2010-Nov-28, 10:53 PM
I'm glad someone has already mentioned Edward Tufte. He's been waging a personal crusade against the misuse and overuse of PowerPoint for many years. His major complaint is that many types of information cannot be properly communicated using a hierarchical list of bullet points or sentence fragments. This reduces the presentation to the level of the sales pitch, making critical analysis difficult. Instead, he says that presenters should prepare handouts using complete sentences arranged in paragraphs (what a revolutionary concept), and limit their PP use to essential images and video.

See, for example, this excerpt from Beautiful Evidence: PowerPoint Does Rocket Science—and Better Techniques for Technical Reports (http://www.edwardtufte.com/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=0001yB&topic_id=1).