Best Practices for Making Life Easier: Presentation Platforms

By Kathryn Magura

I’ve had the opportunity to present on a number of topics over the years, and have tried a variety of presentation platforms and applications. Today I thought I’d discuss some of the platforms I’ve used, and what I like or dislike about each:

  1. Prezi: A few years ago, Prezi was all the rage for presentations. As someone who typically embraces new technology, I was eager to learn Prezi. While I enjoyed the online platform utilized for Prezi, and the ability to edit a presentation with co-presenters, I never felt like the usability became intuitive for me. Sure, I could put together a decent presentation, and knew not to have the path of travel jump around, but I felt like I had to re-learn how to use Prezi each time I created a new presentation. Not exactly what you’re looking for when needing to create a presentation. 
  2. Dropbox: One thing I’ve really found useful, especially when working collaboratively on research projects, is the use of Dropbox. Dropbox allows you to save data on servers that can be accessed anywhere. If someone has permission to access your server repository, they can access the data you have there, and use it for whatever collaboration project you are working on. While there is no specific presentation platform associated with Dropbox, I do think it’s helpful for shared data storage – especially if there is a significant amount of data to share.
  3. Google Drive: Lately I’ve been using the software available via Google Drive for a variety of things, including presentations. Google Drive has an application called “presentation” that resembles PowerPoint, which has made the learning curve very small. Google Drive Presentation also allows you to work on something online, and therefore provides the capability to edit a presentation collaboratively. I have been able to work on a presentation simultaneously with a colleague in Chicago, and see the changes she makes instantaneously. Plus, it helps that Google Drive saves automatically and frequently. The last thing you want is to spend a ton of time on a presentation only to lose it when you don’t save it.

So those are some of the presentation platforms I have used recently. What are your favorites?

Best Practices for Making Life Easier: Presentation Platforms

Blogger’s Choice: PowerPoint, Etc.

By Anitra Cottledge

We all use PowerPoint, right? Is this just a lazy assumption? During the last few weeks, as I’ve been updating a PowerPoint presentation about the gender pay gap and salary negotiation tips and skills for women, I’ve also happened to have a lot of conversations about the effectiveness of PowerPoint, and some possible alternatives.

One of my colleagues is definitely pro-PowerPoint, and shared an article with me that she said “changed her life, at least in regards to PowerPoint!” From “No Bullets: Great Leaders Deliver High Impact Presentations:”

Many professors, executives, politicians and training “experts” are poor presenters; perpetuating bad presentation practices with unreadable charts, bulleted text, miniscule fonts, templates, clip art, flashy transitions, too many graphics, and unnecessary visual noise. Effective communication isn’t about clicking through text-laden slides: that’s data sharing (and just plain lazy). Engaging an audience, leaving a lasting impression, and moving people to action require purposeful training, hard work and practice.

True, it is difficult to balance the data sharing and engagement elements of presentations, particularly when reading the contents of each slide aloud in an effort to be accessible. If you’re tired of the usual text blah blah blah feeling of some PowerPoint presentations, you can try Pecha Kucha 20×20, “a simple presentation format where you show 20 images, each for 20 seconds. The images forward automatically and you talk along to the images.”

I haven’t tried PechaKucha, and also haven’t read anything about the accessibility of this particular presentation method, so I can’t offer any input about using it as an alternative to PowerPoint.

If neither PowerPoint nor PechaKucha work for you, maybe you should use art as an engagement tool instead. “Use dancers instead of PowerPoint,” says John Bohannon:

Bohannon also runs an international contest called Dance Your Ph.D. For those of you with a Ph.D., would it have been effective (and well-received) to turn your Ph.D. dissertation into a dance? I suppose it depends upon your discipline, your institution, your department and your committee.

Has anyone tried these or other methods of presenting information? What have you found to be effective and/or challenging?

Blogger’s Choice: PowerPoint, Etc.