One of the traditional forms of presenting academic work is to read a paper. Literally. I’ve seen this done for years. A scholar will stand and read a paper aloud to a group of seemingly intelligent people, as if the mark of an intellectual is how much boredom one can endure. It’s dreadfully dull as an information delivery mechanism.
This form of presenting academic work has changed to include the use of slides. The problem is that this is often just a glorified version of reading a paper, with far too much text and charts crammed into slides that are impossible to read. This is sometimes referred to as “death by powerpoint.”
We can do better than this. And, indeed, if we’re interested in communicating scholarly ideas with a wider public, we need to get better at this. Here are some resources for how to do this.
Guidelines for Good Presentation Slides
- The Problem
- The Solution
- Exemplars: People Who are Really, Really Good at This
- Garr Reynolds, Presentation Zen (book) and (blog)
- Cliff Atkinson, Beyond Bullet Points (book)
- TED Talks – most everyone that does one of these, really has their presentation game down, and they can be fun to watch. Here are a few favorites (note the absence of bullet points):
- “An Inconvenient Truth” – The documentary about climate change, is actually a film based on Al Gore’s presentation that he got some design help with from Duarte Design.