English
3880

Writing for Business and Industry

Fall
2013

 

Presentations

Note: this week is about creating oral presentations. You will not have to give one.

Readings

Readings

From a Thom Haller presentation

In my industry EVERYTHING is done in Powerpoint - we call it death by Powerpoint. I think there is some truth to Tufte's argument. The biggest difference between the days of the overhead projector and today is ease of use. Powerpoint can be a phenomenal tool when it is used properly. It is a presentation tool, meaning there has to be backside analysis and structure before building a presentation. The Powerpoint reinforces your presentation it is not a stand alone presentation. Overheads were typically a pain to make, expensive, and difficult to modify. If people were going to take the time and money to create overhead slides there was a process behind doing so. Analyze the data, develop your arguments, structure the arguments, make a conclusion, and present the data. Typically there was a technical report that backed the overheads up. With Powerpoint this is not the case. Everybody has access to it and it is extremely easy to make. It is not so much that the program is bad but rather everybody skips the process leading up to the presentation and just starts building their arguments in the brief. This causes people to go through the analysis and thinking simultaneous to making the presentation causing it to be unstructured and overwhelming.


Inclass work

1. Look at Discussion Question #1, on Tufte's claim that PowerPoint is evil. Create a PowerPoint presentation that either refutes or supports his claim. The presentation should last about 5 minutes, which gives you the basic idea of how many slides to create. However, you will not be giving this presentation, but you will be going through it and explaining your design choices on a slide-by-slide basis and why you created an effective presentation.

2. Review these four presentations (all were created for an information archeticture conference). Compare and contrast how they approach design slides. The audience for all four of these presentations are the same and they may have even appeared back-to-back on the schedule. Which is more effective, which is least? What can be done to improve them? How well do the more unconventional approaches work and what would you have to consider before using one of them?

http://www.slideshare.net/AnnieDrynan/designing-forfailure-iasummit2013

http://www.slideshare.net/ChrisNoessel/ia-summit-sketchnotes

http://www.slideshare.net/brownorama/designing-rules-ia-summit-2009

http://www.slideshare.net/brownorama/modeling-concepts-ia-summit-2009

3. In what ways do overflow distortion, content cutting, and slide title flattening violate the presentation's logical hierarchy? How does an author maintain visual hierarchy in slide presentations? How do authors illustrate hierarchical relationships in slide design so it is apparent across slides? Create a series of slides that illustrate both how you can violate the logical hierarcy and how you can support it for a presentation with the following outline of the main body slides. You'll be describing your choices.

4. How do you know when a slide has the proper amount of content?

There are many PPT guidelines with statements like " A slide has one topic with no more than 5 bullet points of 6 words each. It has bullets instead of sentences. Slides should not have more than 40 words." However these are generic structural design and say nothing about communicating your information. How do translate this advice into a slide that has the proper amount of content? Simply dogmatically following this advice is one of the reason PowerPoint has developed its bad reputation.

 

Assignment

Go back to your textbook recommendation report and create the PowerPoint presentation you will give to the faculty textbook committee. You will have 5-10 minutes to present your analysis. The number of slides needs to reflect this limitation (15 slides is too many).

Turn in

Powerpoint file

Supporting document (10% of the grade). Write a 2 page single spaced report (supporting document) describing the design decisions you made to support the audience for the presentation. Explain and justify your design of the presentation, citing relevant sources from the course to support your design decisions. Note that you must explain your design choices, not give a description of how you went about doing the project.

Points that will hurt your grade

  • No supporting document lowers the score one letter grade
  • No support from the class material for the design decisions
  • Only discussing one or two decisions and ignoring other major factors
  • Talking in generalities about about how to design a PowerPoint and not how this one was designed to address the audience

Homework

Complete the Presentations quiz in Blackboard. The quiz is open book (the browser is not locked down), but you can only take it once.

 

Discussion questions

Week 1.

Q1

Is Tufte right that PowerPoint is evil? Is the software designed such that it almost ensures a bad presentation? Is it a great example of giving an untrained person a powerful tool is ensuring disaster? So what is the fundamental problem with why PowerPoint is getting a bad rap? People used overheads for many years and they never got the same reputation. How did the move to computer cause such problems?

Week 2.

Q1.

In what ways do overflow distortion, content cutting, and slide title flattening violate the presentation's logical hierarchy? How does an author maintain visual hierarchy in slide presentations? How do authors illustrate hierarchical relationships in slide design so it is apparent across slides?

weak answer: Deck authors show hierarchical relationships by using clear, distinctive titles and subtitles or categories and subcategories. Content cutting, overflow distortion, and slide title flattening violate this hierarchical logic in many ways.

Q2.

How do you know when a slide has the proper amount of content?

There are many PPT guidelines with statements like " A slide has one topic with no more than 5 bullet points of 6 words each. It has bullets instead of sentences. Slides should not have more than 40 words." However these are generic structural design and say nothing about communicating your information. How do translate this advice into a slide that has the proper amount of content? Simply dogmatically following this advice is one of the reason PowerPoint has developed its bad reputation.

Thoughts to ponder

1.

Here's a presentation that has good use of descriptive titles and supporting text on the slides.

http://www.slideshare.net/vpassion/developing-metrics-that-demonstrate-the-value-of-technical-communications

2.

The Gettysburg address rewritten as a PowerPoint presentation.

 

 

 

 

Design by Michael J. Albers Copyright 2013. All rights reserved.
Send me an email.