Skills for the 21st Century

Cognitive and Literacy Skills for Success in a Fast-Paced Technological Age

Archive for the ‘Effective Presentations’ Category

We Are More Visually Savvy than Forbes: Death of Boring PowerPoints

Posted by durencls on September 10, 2012

We were highly amused to see this online article by Forbes magazine, published 9/7/2012:

Jeff Bezos and the End of PowerPoint As We Know It – by Carmine Gallo

Basing his article on the powerful presentation made by Jeff Bezos when unveiling the new Kindle Fire last week, the author, Gallo, states:

“… his presentation slides were light on text and heavy on images. This style of delivering presentations is fresh, engaging, and ultimately far more effective than slide after slide of wordy bullet points.

I’ve noticed that many business leaders around the world are adopting the image-rich style including very famous CEO’s such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, and even Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. The style works for any leader, in any industry.” [Emphasis added]

Not only is this article touting the efficacy of this presentation technique two years behind our recommendations, it is SIX years behind the dates of many of the resources we cited in our 2009 COABE presentation.

WE thought we were bringing an established practice to the field of Adult Literacy/ESOL education – which is often somewhat behind major technological changes in the corporate world.   Funny to find we were AHEAD of (or at least on par with) many in industry.

I was also interested by this quote by Gallo:

“I’ve discussed this technique before in more detail but in short, it’s called Picture Superiority. It simply means that the brain processes information more effectively when the information is presented in pictures and words instead of words alone. Neuroscientists have also found that when a slide (or advertisement) contains pictures and words, it’s best to have the picture on the left side of the page or slide and words on the right. [Emphasis added]

That is new news to me – I’d love to see that research cited somewhere. I’ve written the author to see if he can send me a citation.

In any case, one issue is clear – PowerPoints should be VISUAL – not text-based!!!  Join us in the (half-decade old) movement to stop ‘Death by Powerpoint’ and ineffective presentations!


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New Page – Effective Presentations

Posted by durencls on April 29, 2010

At the risk of feeling something like evangelists, Bill and I are currently advocating that all the instructors, trainers, and professional developers we know take a hard look at how they use PowerPoint for instructional purposes. All too often, brain research and what we know about effective communication is totally ignored when creating PowerPoint-based presentations.

This ties in, we find, to  the idea of ‘visual literacy’ – which  is currently being touted as a critical future technology/job skill.

We do not, however, have time available to start and maintain another blog on this topic – besides that are already many VERY good ones out there!  Instead, we’ve just created another page for this blog:
Effective Presentations

We will add to this page regularly  – as we have time or come across another cool new idea or resource.  Please take a moment to visit it  – our recent reads include: How PowerPoint is used in the military (badly), and some recent video clips found on the Presentation Zen blog.

As always, please feel free to let us know if you’ve found something interesting on this topic and we’ll see about adding it!

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More Visual presentations

Posted by durencls on April 5, 2010

[From Wikipedia] Since technological advances continue to develop at an unprecedented rate, educators are increasingly promoting the learning of visual literacies as indispensable to life in the information age. Similar to linguistic literacy (meaning making derived from written or oral human language) commonly taught in schools, most educators would agree that literacy in the 21st Century has a wider scope.[3] Educators are recognizing the importance of helping students develop visual literacies in order to survive and communicate in a highly complex world.

The ability to process visual information  is becoming more and more important in our society. At the start of our COABE presentation, we cautioned that our presentation style was not typical – there would be no “handout of the slides” in part because there was almost no text on any of our slides.  We use a more “visual” style of presentation – which is in line with current trends and predictions for the future. 

The presentation style we use focuses on the presenter – what the LIVE person/people presenting have to say as the critical factor, not the text on the slides. The slide show itself is designed to emphasize, show analogies/metaphors, or expand on what the presenters are saying.  This presentation style leverages both a person’s auditory AND visual processing abilities in a complimentary (not competitive) manner. For more information on this presentation style,* check out our handout from COABE 2009 on this topic.

Migrant mother - Dorothea Lange 1936The old adage, “a picture is worth 1000 words,” is essentually accurate. It would take many many words to even try to convey all the information, emotion, and implications of the photo at left. And, in truth, each person viewing the photo brings different experiences and information to the viewing – making many different connections with that existing information in seconds.

Given the proliferation of information in our current and future societies, the ability to both process visual information and communicate  information visually seem like very key skills for the 21st century.

How do you foster these skills in adult education classes?  Please comment with your ideas!

*We did not invent this style, it is a melding of styles used by folks such as Lawrence Lessig, Dick Hardt, Andy Goodman, Garr Reynolds, and others.

Posted in 21st Century Communication, Effective Presentations, Futurism, Meta-Skills | Tagged: | 1 Comment »