Making your presentation interesting (or yes, you need a thesis)

What’s the point?  A common presentation mistake is to have slides with so much information on them that the viewer isn’t sure what to remember.

Below is a good sample:

This has a lot of information on the Khan Academy, but is too broad.  If asked “what’s the point,” how would you answer?

Every slide should express a single complete sentence.  For the Khan Academy, there are a variety that could be used:

  • Online videos are the future of education.
  • One person can do great things with technology.
  • Sal Khan has helped a lot of people with online videos.

Since the presentation is on how the Khan Academy is changing education through IT, a good thesis for this slide would be the last in the list above.

In slide design, it’s best to have a strong title.  This should be the thesis for the slide. A quick look at Khan’s YouTube channel and their homepage allows us to flesh out out our thesis with a few key points:

  • Sal Khan has had a major impact with simple educational videos
    • One-man’s non-profit started in 2006
    • 2,600 micro-lectures on YouTube with 107 million views
    • Expanding with exercises, knowledge maps, and badges

These key points should be turned into a story.  The presenter could start by describing how Sal made some simple videos to help his nephews learn calculus.  Then, they could talk about the expansion since 2004, the simple style of presentation and easy YouTube hosting, and end by describing the funding allowing him to create new features.

Once the story is designed, we need to finish the slide design.  While we could just use the bullet points as is, it’d be better to use visuals to increase the impact.

One option would be to try and show images of the people who have been helped.  Another would be to show a graph comparing the viewing hours generated by Sal’s budget with those created by another publisher.  But, the simplest way to highlight his impact is to show a short clip from a video and highlight the most critical numbers describing the organization.

Below is an plain slide with a clear thesis:

While plain, the above slide is easier for people to quickly skim, helps the presenter to avoid reading the slides, and has a much clearer thesis statement.

Ultimately, the goal of a presentation should be to have people remember it the following morning.  Which of these two slides would you remember?

Posted in Presentations | Comments Off on Making your presentation interesting (or yes, you need a thesis)