Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Presentation tips and tricks

Looking online leads to finding  tons of resources that can be used by teachers and students for projects and presentations.These include editable videos, images, clipart, and songs, sound effects and other audio clips. To make a presentation get noticed and stand out, there are some basic methodologies you should think about.
Background colors you pick to use in your presentation can negate your message or make it difficult for your viewers to learn from your information. Lynell Burmark, in her book entitled “Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn“, provides the research behind the use of color and its impact on the viewer. 
Remember to think carefully about the background colors you pick for your presentations, highlight colors you pick for for your videos, or colors you include in an infographic!

One of my favorite videos, from the Teaching Channel site, includes information about basic video camera use in the classroom to improve practice. You can watch the five-minute video to learn more, but following is an overview of the great tips that are shared and apply to use of a video camera in any situation!
  1. Use a tripod or hold the camera close to your body.
  2. Don’t shoot towards a window. Either move the camera or move the subject.
  3. Don’t forget to press the record button!
  4. If you are not using an external microphone, get the camera as close as you can to the subject for the best audio.
  5. Always hold your camera in landscape mode for video or photos you are going to use in a video.
  6. Don’t pan too fast and be judicious with the use of zoom.
  7. Remember to back-up your raw footage to a computer or external drive.

There are many different recommendations for the number of words per line, lines per slide, and the size of the font on a slide or a slide inserted into a video. These are just basic suggestions, but always remember to think about the distance between the back of the room, the screen size, and the size of the projected image.
Dave Paradi, of ThinkOutsidetheSlide.com, interpolated the size of the the text on US road signs, and came up with the following two charts with suggestions for the comfortable viewing distance based on the sizes of the screen and font. And, of course, if you know the size of the screen and the distance already, you can use the chart to determine your font size, too.
As far as the number of words per line and lines per slide, the current trend is to use short phrases with an image to help the audience remember the content. However, the standard rule of thumb is either five lines per slide with no more than five words each (5×5 rule) or six lines with no more than six words per line (6×6 rule).
The default templates that come with slide presentation programs don’t always adhere to best practices in slide design. For instance, many of the slide templates center the title and left-align the body text. I think it looks better to have only one alignment. Either left-align the title or center the body text, but don’t mix two text alignments on the same slide.
Instead of using bullet points, think about creating a bit more space between each point on your slide. This makes it obvious where one idea starts and stops. Numbering each point, however, may be necessary if you are including instructions or steps in a procedure.

Make sure the images in your presentation look professional. Clipart is nice when presenting to younger students, but there are plenty of Creative Commons-licensed images that allow editing which can be used in a presentation to illustrate your point or expand upon the content. I suggest taking a look at the Photos For Class site. This site searches for images that include the ability to edit without giving that same license to any variation you create and the images can only be used non-commercially. Remember, students and you can use the Flickr search, Google Images search, or Bing search to limit your searches to Creative Commons licenses and just get images you want to use as-is, which are left out of the Photos For Class searchers.. However, the Photos for Class images include a great feature– the citation for the image is downloaded with the image itself! This makes if very easy for students to cite the images they use in a project. 

There are a few major players in the video creation field. Apple’s iMovie for Mac and Adobe’s Premiere Elements for Mac and Windows are two common stand-alone programs used in schools. And, WeVideo is an often-used Web 2.0 video creation tool. Each one includes the ability to import images onto the video timeline and then apply effects to these images. One common one, called the “Ken Burns Effect” in iMovie, the “Pan and Zoom” in Adobe Premiere Elements, and “Animation” in WeVideo, allows animating of these imported images. This can help focus the viewers attention on a certain area of the image. Students should learn how to adjust the Ken Burns Effect, the Pan and Zoom Effect, and the Animation Effect to meet the needs of their intended audience. In addition, judicious use of the pan and zoom effect is recommended. Too many images zooming in and out can make a viewer dizzy!

What tools do you use for your creation of presentations? Which ones do your students use? Shere with us on Twitter! #kathyschrock