Once you’ve got your presentation’s structure clear (see the module on analogue design!) you’re ready to figure out what slides to use. You’ll probably have got quite a few good ideas on your index cards already, but don’t be tempted to rush into things. Baby steps!
Most people (and if you’re into psychometrics and personality type tests, this is particularly people with a preference for detail) tend to write linear presentations. You start at the beginning, you have a middle and you have an end. If the presentation was about your holidays it would be chronological. It’s the obvious approach but it does suffer from one big drawback.
If your audience doesn’t understand slide/chapter four they have no chance of understanding anything else after that.
There’s another problem too, which is that in a longer presentation/report there’s more chance of people getting bored and switching off… and there’s no recovery from that! 😉
The solution is to write in ‘black boxes’. What’s a black box? An example might help.
How do you use this idea? It’s fairly simple, once you’ve got the hang of it.
If you need to, you spend time exploring with your audience the contents of the black box (Alert: think about the twitter test and the curse of the expert – do you really need to explore this with your audience?!). Then when you’re ready you close the black box. You do this with a wrapping up summary of what happens inside the black box, ignoring how it happens.
For example… “Okay, that’s it for the sort algorithm. If you’ve got it, great. If you’re not sure about the details don’t worry about them for now, you can read them up later: what matters is that you put random data in and get sorted data out.“
See what that does?
- it gives you audience a chance to re-start and re-join-in if they’re a little lost
- it also breaks the presentation up into smaller parts, so that people will find it easier to concentrate.
Exercise: Go back to your sets of index cards and see what your wrapping up phrase would be at the end of each section. It needs to: