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reth1nk: Presentations Part 1


"The future isn't just a place you'll go. It's a place you will invent." Nancy Duarte

 When I started working in educational technology, the use of presentation and display technologies was well established. The stigma of bullet point overload was well known, yet still standard practice. Slide decks that portrayed verbatim the lectures that the presenter gave...
 I started watching TED talks and being amazed at the combination of storytelling and information dissemination. There was a whole new style of presentation gaining popularity. I began attempting to find the bridge between keynote speeches like those of the Jobs, Regie Fil-Aimé, or Al Gore and the way in which presentations are used in the classroom.
 There was a definite gap. There are teachers that I've met that are entirely dynamic and engaging with a whiteboard or a flip chart and a marker, but completely lose their spark when told to use more technology in their craft.
 The argument I have for utilizing digital presentations boils down to the ethereal nature of the whiteboard. What is written on it is often lost at the end of the period and has to be recreated every time that unit is taught. Working with digital inking tools, electronic whiteboards, or presentation software the content can be communicated, saved, and reused later.
 But I wanted to focus first on the craft of improving their presentation with any tool and then could focus on specific tools.
 That's when I discovered Slide:ology by Nancy Duarte. This book approaches the methodology for creating the slide deck that accompanies a speech and really emphasizes that the visual assets not be an after thought but an essential component that is just as important as the words written and the performance of the speaker.
 Later, I found and read, Resonate also by Duarte and Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. The former which focused on how to write a better speech and the latter which also focused on maximizing the effect of the presentation materials.
 So often I have seen a presentation at a conference or in a classroom whose slide deck was a direct copy of the words the presenter was speaking. In these situations, it made me ask "Why bother taking the time to give the speech?" You could have just created an eBook or whitepaper for download. Or the opposite, when a speech is well delivered with a deck that support the speaker and accentuates the performance without being redundant and then they offer the deck as a download or print out afterward but without the speech to accompany it, it doesn't make any sense or provide all the content.
 That's when my approach to training presenters changed. These books helped me see that there were better ways to get across the method and apply them in a variety of ways depending on the content being delivered and the intended audience. I'll break down the various types of presentation types and ways to think about decks in another post, but wanted to give a shout out to the books and resources that helped me begin down this path. Whether it's thinking about your sales funnels in Inbound and Social Marketing, creating the right materials to entice and reward people on your landing pages, or making the best use of technology in a classroom while giving a lesson, these books are well worth the read.

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