Thank goodness for practice presentations. By the end of the day, I think our PowerPoint Presentation improved from a “meh” 5/10, to a strong 8.5/10.
This morning, we had a nice long Peer-Review Presentation Practice Session that lasted all morning and a bit into the afternoon. This was tremendously helpful for me, and i’m sure it was for everyone else as well. These “milestone updates” and “peer-review” sessions are definitely a big plus. One thing that I realized after presenting, was that I have been a little bit misguided with presentations in general.
I remember in elementary school, our little PowerPoint presentations were filled with fun colors, fancy images, and intense animations. However, throughout middle school, we were told to avoid crazy colors, and simplify everything. Of course their point was to make sure that the slides are readable to audiences, and also to make sure that you knew your material. Remember the kid who used black colored letters on a dark blue background and that other kid who wrote an essay on each slide? Yeah, they wanted us to avoid that.By high-school, presentations were so uninspiring and bland, that they probably would have failed in elementary school.
I got the idea that simplicity and minimalism meant clarity. This, I now realize, is not entirely true. After our practice run, I realized that many of the slides in our presentation were working against us. The entire purpose of a presentation is to make the delivery of a message or idea easier for the presenter and clearer for the audience. Our presentation was hurting us instead of helping us because the information slides were too vague and general. They were too simple. We left out too much information, and that meant that we had to explain more, and the audience would therefor have to listen more. And we all know that an audience that is forced to listen more carefully, is an audience that won’t listen at all.
PowerPoints are tools that can help guide us in our telling of our story. Animations convey a sense of progress over time, and visuals help explain concepts and ideas. I had shied away from visuals and especially animations because I believed them to be obstructive, distracting, or unnecessary. But now I realize that, if used correctly, animations and visuals are immensely beneficial.
I spent the rest of the day (hmm, last day? wow) revamping the old PowerPoint with magnificent animations and a few more visuals. Originally, we were unsure about how in-depth we wanted go in explaining the issues with unpredictable URLs. Then we realized that if we only half explain it – which we did in our practice run, it would only be confusing and more detrimental than beneficial to the presentation. We should either explain it fully, or not touch upon it at all.
So we decided to explain it fully as best as we can. However, this time it won’t be just us trying to verbally explain it with just a handful of words on the presentation slide. I have assembled an animation that will hopefully guide the audience as I explain it. I’ve tested it on my brother, and it seemed to work. Here’s a sneak peak!
Aside from animations, more visuals, and a better explanation, we have re-ordered the slides of the presentation for the sake of clarity. Originally we had the slides correlate chronologically with our actual progress over time in the lab. However, this order doesn’t really lend itself too well with a very “follow-able story-line.” The re-arranged order should make a little bit more sense and should be a lot easier to follow.
Thank you fellow interns, Bob, and Bethany for your very helpful advice and feedback. Tomorrow should be fun!