Presentation Thinking & Design

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A must read for elearning designers!

The book is about preparing presentations, but most of the ideas apply to elearning design. The book itself exemplifies the principles and methods of presentation explained in it: clear, plain, concise, well structured, good examples and stories, visualization of ideas, adequate (but not fancy) type, color and graphic design. A combination of rich personal stories, concise summaries of relevant research (presented in plain and interesting ways), and clear explanations with powerful examples, the book is both very convincing and very practically helpful in presentation designs.

One idea that I find most intriguing is studies on working and long term memories. The working memory is high efficient but has a highly limited load. To maximize memory a presenter must reduce unnecessary cognitive load in their presentation by trimming non-essential visual element or information, structure the information so that grouping and hierarchies aid the processing, and use sensory input in the forms of details and stories to enhance memory.

Of course these are not new ideas. However when presented in a cogent way they become all clear, connected and attainable, which further proves the point of the book: the difficulty of making a good presentation is not the lack of information, but its organization.

I find the idea of presentation as story telling particularly interesting too (No wonder Articulate named its elearning tool Storyline). Years ago, I actually used this idea of storytelling in the AYCE job searching course: instead of listing abstract points of job searching strategies and employer expectations, I organized five short interviews (three new employees, two employers) centering on discussion of their personal experiences and opinions on the stratifies and expectations. I believe this gave a much more compelling experience to the learners and drove in the points much better. The downside is it takes a lot more time and efforts to produce compared with bullet points.

So soft skills training lends particularly well to this method–a scenario or a portrait can make a lot of difference in interest and engage the learners. Or you can present information as dialogues between characters. What about other types of courses?

 

 

 

 

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