More Practice Presenting, Please

Sir Ken Robinson was a brilliant presenter. If you never had the pleasure of hearing him speak live, you should know that he was mesmerizing. I remember sitting in a vast audience of people - and the whole time - I felt like he was talking just to me.

And the slides? I think there were three slides total for a one-hour presentation. He basically just spoke. The slides were a backdrop. I could have sat there for hours listening to him. I never lost focus for a single moment.

Presenting is a really important skill.

As adults, we rely quite heavily on this method of conveying information, and yet, we receive little training in it. When I assign the students in my graduate education class to give a presentation, I give one first. I model what kind of slides I am looking for and what kind of enthusiasm I am hoping for. I figure…if we are going to spend a class session listening to each other present, we should all try to be the best presenter we can be. Additionally, slide design and presentation skills are part of my assessment rubric, because - while the content is important - how the content is conveyed is extremely important. 

It seems most adults struggle to be as compelling as Sir Ken Robinson, which is no surprise. Presentation skills are not cultivated at the K-12 level. Right now, my daughter is in high school, and she uses Google Slides…a lot. But very few teachers give any instruction about slide design or presentation skills. Just the other day, someone finally gave her some guidance. 1. Only 5 bullets per page. 2. Only 5 words per bullet. 3. Don't read the slides.
That’s not much to go on.
During the Industrial Age, when we needed people to work in factories… we gave students skills that they needed to work in factories. Now, in the Information Age, we need people to transfer information…so we need to give students relevant skills. Presentation skills is a great place to start.