Week 4 is all about the art of communication and how visuals can enhance our message. This is a topic I love exploring since I believe that the messages we send can be made even more impactful with great visual aids. 

We have all been there, right? Creating a Powerpoint or Google Slides presentation for the classroom or perhaps a workshop. Laboring over the slides and the flow of the information presented. I know that I sometimes get so into it that I often need a second set of eyes on it to ensure that I’m not losing focus on my audience’s experience. After all, our audience experience is key and should be the perspective we try to cater to. 

Here are a few steps to take when building a visual presentation with the audience in mind:

  1. Consider using fewer elements on a slide. In David JP Phillips brilliant TedTalk called Death by Powerpoint he explains that having no more than 6 elements on a slide is important. The audience won’t have enough cognitive resources to understand more than that. This also goes for placing too much text. Avoid including large pieces of text on your slides because people can’t read and listen at the same time. 
  2. Avoid flashy transitions and visual elements that draw too much attention away from your message. Your slide presentation is there to support you and not the other way around. Using different transitions and confusing animations can sometimes distract the audience and work against you. 
  3. Consider giving a follow-up sheet containing the main points of your presentation. Rather than packing all your slides with as much information as possible, causing people to snap photos of each slide, considering giving out a one-pager with all your talking points. You can tell people this ahead of time and put some supporting images on your slides rather than text.

Your assignment for this week is to choose a visual aid (slide, poster, anchor chart, etc.) that you would like to update. Gather feedback from your students and/or colleagues about how well the visual aids their understanding. Based on their feedback, and the readings from this course thus far, redesign that resource. Please share your process on your blog post, as well as a reflection of how you think it went. 

A wonderful example of someone going through the process of revising their visual presentations using Presentation Zen is this video by Cult of Pedagogy’s Jennifer Gonzalez. She outlines how she used to build presentations and how considering some key design elements changed her approach.

By the end of this week you should have completed:

  • 4 blog posts and inserted the links for each in the gradesheet
  • 4 comments on your peers blogs and links for them in the gradesheet
  • Work on the final project can be ongoing throughout the course.
  • If you have not yet, please take a few minutes to complete the Mid-Program Survey from the Welcome Week as soon as possible.

You have all done some wonderful work in this course so far. I am so pleased to see you working together during your design processes. Keep up the awesome work!