Avoiding Death by Powerpoint

At our last Digital Literacies meeting, Elizabeth Tavares shared her tips for (1) crafting effective presentations and (2) supporting students as they prepare for their Multimodal Presentations.

Elizabeth shared a variety of tools that can help students and instructors create interesting, effective, and visually appealing presentations in any situation:

  • Elizabeth suggested trying Prezi, which allows presenters to organize material in a variety of ways (as opposed to the linear presentation style of Powerpoint).  Students and instructors can access a free, upgraded version of Prezi for schools.
  • For those with iPads, Doceri allows you to run presentations from your iPad without being physically connected to the instructor podium.  Doceri costs $30 and is one of the only resources Elizabeth shared that must be paid for.  This allows presenters to move around the room.
  • Animation Factory and Slideshare provide creative templates.
  • Storyboard presentations before putting your Powerpoint or Prezi together.
  • “Death by Powerpoint” gives excellent tips for designing engaging presentations.  Elizabeth has made an abbreviated version of “Death by Powerpoint” that she shares with her class during a 50-minute class.
  • Presenters should limit themselves to 4-5 slides.

Elizabeth also shared some specific strategies for the Multimodal Presentations assignment from the Rhetoric common syllabus.

  • She stressed that assigning the Multimodal Presentations to take place before the Synthesis Essay allows the presentations to function as part of students’ revision processes.  This enables students to gain feedback on their work but also forces them to think about how they can effectively communicate their arguments in ways beneficial as they later finalize their essays.
  • She also argued that instructors should reinforce that the Multimodal Presentations are multimodal; in other words, instructors should help students think critically about the modality in which they are writing.
  • Low-stakes presentations throughout the semester help students become comfortable with the medium before the Multimodal Presentations assignment.  One way that Elizabeth helps prepare students for the Multimodal Presentations is by asking them to present their Wikipedia Essay to the class.
  • Instructors should model effective presenting in their lessons throughout the term!
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