Yes, I’m guilty. Of course I am. I’ve bored more people with text-heavy bulleted presentations than anybody should ever have to admit to. But I was just doing what every kid with a new toy does. I was trying it on to see what it could do.
I was lucky enough to have Kim Cofino mention “Presentation Zen” to me a year ago when I was working on a proposal for our regional teachers’ conference. I wasn’t quite ready then to abandon all my work in the name of getting my message out in that dramatic, but Spartan, by my “old” standards, style. Luckily, my presentation wasn’t selected for the conference, so no one was ever subjected to that last-gasp 20th-century blow-out.
But I’m learning. The message of that presentation was important to me, so I went back in the spring and took another look at it to see what could be salvaged. I found some heartening things through applying some of the principles of “Presentation Zen” as I now understand them.
1) I was able to improve it 100% by simply stripping out the background Theme. What a simple concept! As soon as I saw my images highlighted on that featureless black background, I was hooked. No more “wind over Paris spring” themes for me…
2) I had tried to open with a snapshot of a looming environmental train-wreck, to tie this to a personal life-story paralleling the evolution of the environmental one, and then to use the converging storylines to pitch my own speculative fiction novel, Mai Shangri-La. the result included WAY too many competing messages. Each deserved its own vehicle.
3) In spite of my legacy bulleted style, I found that each slide had a core element that I could keep. By “unpacking” the multilayered images, I could expand one slide into several much simpler ones, all of which could impart their own unique message.
4) Without some of the excess wording, individual slides took on a new vibrancy that thrilled me. So a slide which had packed in a dozen cascading images and a series of expanding bullets became a series of individual slides with one or two words each.
I tried unsuccessfully to export a sample to PDF to display here, but uploads keep failing, so I’m bailing on this and moving on. Trust me, that the new, leaner Powerpoint was a dramatic improvement over the old. Now if I could just become so facile with a blogging platform… :0(
…but leaving it at that was really not very satisfying, so I finally ate crow and went to Dennis, my Divisional TRC (Technology Resource Coordinator), and learned a valuable lesson to buttress my learning about Presentation Zen – and basic Powerpoint use ;0) And the lesson is…USE the resources available to you, including the services of people who’s job it is to support you. It will save a LOT of time and frustration. Thanks, Dennis.
Here’s a JPEG of just ONE of the original slides from the “Pre-Zen” Presentation (47 slides, all Packed out with words, cascading images, transitions (although I had already learned to pare these down to a single image and slide transition) and sound (thankfully, no typewriter clacks or machine-gun yammer, but still an overpowering background music dominating many of the slides)
And here’s the “kicker” slide from the new presentation (the new Presentation took that SINGLE original slide and “unpacked” it to present just one of the many messages in the original.)