Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Making a better presentation

I'm hoping to find time this week to work on a presentation I'm giving next month. I've been working on my presentation skilz since I first gave one to apply for my job. That was perhaps the worst experience of my life. I had been used to reading papers at conferences. I had no idea how to put slides together, much less speak from them. When I did a run-through of my job talk for my husband, he, as gently as possible, let me know it sucked. I burst into tears. (Hey, I'd been up for days, it seemed, and it just seemed an insurmountable problem.) I finally put together a good presentation, with images and more.

My presentations aren't perfect and I'm always trying to live up to the performances of many people I've seen give presentations--Michael Wesch, Lawrence Lessig, and a guy from Pomona. The presentation is only partly about the slides; it's also about what you do with them once you're in front of an audience. I've had situations where my slides were fabulous, but then I relied on their fabulousness a little too much.

Anyway, I spent yesterday at IKEA, buying furniture for our dining room and then putting some of it together. Garr, over at Presentation Zen, has a great post about using IKEA billboards as inspiration for slides. IKEA billboards are bold and colorful, make only one point, and have very little text on them. I'm hoping that my recent trip has provided some fodder for my own presentation needs. I also think that many of the presentations I've seen, aka PowerPoint-based lectures, could use some serious inspiration from places like IKEA. Most have too many points per slide, almost no pictures, and lack any color whatsoever. I know not every lecture is going to be an A+ performance, but think about taking just one of those bullet-laden slides and redoing it. It's a new year, after all.