Improving presentation style: Good summer reading


I’m just back from a week in Paris. Having visited the Louvre, the Picasso museum, the Pompidou Center, and the Rodin museum, I’m feeling visually inspired. Now I’m talking with one of our graphic designers about cooking up a one-hour lunch time brownbag on the topic: “How to make better presentations.”

My friend Ron Dietl at UCLA’s CRESST is quite the evangelist on this topic and we have presented together.

Like you, we have seen so many potentially good presentations spoiled by godawful slide decks, not only on campus but at regional and national conferences: Slide after slide of bullet points and dense text. Research shows that text-heavy slides do *not* reinforce what the speaker is saying; this practice actually distracts the audience by messing with short-term memory and thus retention.

Our artist, Janet, and I are planning a workshop for researchers about presenting ideas graphically, and telling stories with pictures.

I’m proposing that we cite some of the fabulous ideas in these books

Presentation Zen


Beyond Bullet Points

The Back of the Napkin

Rodin, Picasso, and the Louvre have nothing to worry about. But maybe this exercise will add to effective communication of research.


2 Responses to Improving presentation style: Good summer reading

  1. Andrew says:

    Great post – I’m not sure when the rule was made that presentations must go hand in hand with PowerPoint, but I think it’s taking things in the wrong direction. As a kid in grade school, when I’d give presentations in front of the class, we almost always had to accompany it with a PPT. Now PPTS have become a crutch, not to mention a distraction. How much more impressive to stand in front of a crowd with nothing but your ideas, spoken through your mouth instead of an LCD projector.

    • paul says:

      Thanks for the comment. When I was a kid in grade school, there WAS no Powerpoint. We just brought in our birds’ nests and dead snakes and stood in front of the class and told stories.

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