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This is the fifth in a series of occasional posts by guest expert
Mike Parkinson on using PowerPoint in different industries and for
diverse audiences. Mike is an internationally recognized visual
communication expert, multi-published author, and partner at 24 Hour Company, a premier proposal and presentation graphics firm. Take a look at his other posts: 2 steps to change the world with PowerPoint, 3 tips for making powerful presentations to the government, 3 presentation secrets for nonprofits, and How my slide presentation won me over a million dollars.
Presentations help educate college students, scientists,
business professionals, engineers, and many more. These people go on to solve
local and global problems, invent life-changing tools, and help others to
overcome adversity and achieve their goals. Websites like Ted.com and SlideShare.net
showcase professional and amateur presentations from various mediums (including
PowerPoint) that can teach us anything from steps to using social media to steps
to solving social issues. These sites and many others allow people from across
the world to upload their presentations and impact a worldwide audience by
communicating their ideas both visually (through slides) and sometimes verbally
With more classes being taught online and in "smart"
classrooms (a classroom containing a computer and audiovisual equipment), instructors
are using PowerPoint to teach students. In an abstract study across two
campuses of students enrolled in psychology classes, researchers noted, "... students generally
believed that the use of PowerPoint facilitated their learning." (Apperson,
Laws, Scepansky, 2006). Employing PowerPoint helped students to relate more
favorably to the professor and the class, and they were more interested in the
material being taught.
Of course, this has led to teachers learning a new medium
and finding the right balance between speaking, showing text, and using
graphics. This study also surveyed the student participants about their
professors' PowerPoint usage. Not surprisingly, the students preferred visuals
accompanied by textual explanations. They also preferred the professor to use
the slides more as discussion points during the class than just reading the
accompanying text. However, overall, students found PowerPoint slides helpful
to their learning experience. (Apperson, et. al., 2006)
My business partner, Dennis Fitzgerald, attended the Future in Review Conference
(FiRe Conference), which introduces cutting-edge, energy-conservation
technologies to attendees. Dennis wanted to learn more about energy efficiency
for his home, yet wasn't an expert on the industry or terminology. At the
conference, nearly every presenter used visuals to share their green solution: energy-efficient
insulation, ways to lower a home's carbon footprint, and how to decrease energy
consumption. Because the presenters used graphics (photographs of green homes,
charts depicting energy consumption rates, etc.) to supplement verbal and
textual content, Dennis more clearly understand the solutions. Visuals distilled
complex information into memorable factoids and stories and motivated Dennis to
take action. The presentations made him care and appealed to his emotions. When
he returned, he began a yearlong home improvement effort and his newfound
understanding and passion transferred to his contractors who began applying
these techniques for other clients.
More far reaching, Al Gore's slides for An
Inconvenient Truth contributed to the impact that documentary had on
millions of viewers. The visuals were compelling along with his passionate
delivery of the information. Both combined to create a moving film that
informed viewers better than Mr. Gore describing the global changes with only
words. As mentioned before, we are more likely to learn, retain, and understand
information when presented with visuals-and PowerPoint helps us to do just
To guarantee your PowerPoint presentations educate (not
complicate), follow these three basic rules:
-- MIke Parkinson
On the K-12 front, teachers can create games, quizzes, webquests, and supplementary resources in PowerPoint. Also, children LOVE PowerPoint. If you don't mind me mentioning it, I'm co-author of PowerPoint for Teachers, which provides lots of techniques and examples, mostly for K-12 teachers.