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Educator Gives Tips on How to Make Better Presentations

Educator Gives Tips on How to Make Better Presentations

An award-winning educator and author offers advice for students and teachers everywhere to avoid being a "talking head" during presentations and instead engage and invigorate their target audience.

Lynell Burmark begins with the numbers. She was once told that by a media analyst that "30 million PowerPoint presentations are given every day. Multiply that by an average of 30 people in each presentation, and you are looking at 90 million people a day who are at best in a daze — at worst dying from boredom," she said according to an article on

In addition, Burmark references evidence that listeners have a time limit to absorbing information before they begin to tune out. "In his multimedia book Brain Rules, cognitive psychologist and University of Washington professor John Medina records this time limit as 10 minutes," she said.

In order to make sure listeners are not tuning out after the ten minute mark, Burmark cites a technique used by an elementary school in California where "after each 10-minute chunk of teacher-driven content, students have two minutes of discussion with a partner. The school calls this '10:2' and teachers observe the practice almost religiously."

She then offers several ways to fully take advantage of this two minute break to fully engage the learner and solidify the content.

Her first recommendation is using videos. She recommends offering creative and fun video clips during the break that relate back to the content. "I use at least 4 to 5 video clips in an hourlong presentation," she said.

Next, she recommends comparing and contrasting images to create group discussion. "In his classic publication What Works in Schools, Robert Marzano has ranked 'identifying similarities and differences' as the number 1 strategy for effective teaching and learning," she said.

...teachers can increase interactivity by encouraging small group discussion of before-and-after slides. For easier comparisons, make sure the images are juxtaposed on the same slide rather than stacked in sequential slides. Let the viewers discover the changes rather than listening to the presenter lecture about them. Use your annotation tools to draw attention to specific points the participants mention.

Finally, Burmark insists that presenters are aware of the "power of images." Not only does Burmark insist the better presentation will smartly feature pictures and avoid "text-laden slides," she recommends using that two minute break for a group discussion about a focal image. "I like to remind presenters that images...elicit different prior knowledge and experience for each viewer. A fun activity to make this point experientially (rather than lecturing about it) involves displaying the following full-screen, full-color image and then asking small groups to answer a series of questions[.]"

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

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