Remote Teaching A-Z: M is for Multimedia Presentations

Over the last decade, I’ve probably given hundreds of presentations to groups of educators big and small. Back when I started there was only PowerPoint, so that’s what I used. (Also back then there was New Coke, and I also had to press the letter S by pressing the number seven, four times.) A few years later many flashier products were released. I was one of the first to jump on the Prezi bandwagon. I loved Prezi, but I didn’t love how people used it incorrectly and made me slightly motion sick. And then there came Google Slides, which opened up a whole new world of presentation collaboration.

Then, there was the wave of “presentations are for the tragically unhip.” In this school of thought, a presentation makes you like your aunt on Facebook who doesn’t know the comment section isn’t for personal, back-and-forth conversations about your roast beef recipe.

Bah, I say.

While it may be true for business environments, it isn’t in teaching or learning.

As the Teacher

We’ve all experienced Death By PowerPoint: seemingly endless slides, ten point font, the guy from Ferris Beuller, and that silent prayer when you look through the printout and see there are still 29 left.

However, presentations, when done well, can also enhance your message and provide a crucial anchor for your students. Remember, they’re processing information that’s new to them. They need to visually be able to hold on to something, because it’s hard work mapping new knowledge onto old. A good presentation also serves as a study resource for students after your meeting has ended.

Teacher Tips for Powerful Presentations
  • Know your objective: Even as adults we rarely hear and comprehend the first time something is presented, and we shouldn’t expect students will either. Get to the point quickly and often. Put your objective in big, bold font at the beginning, middle, and end of the presentation.
  • Make slides engaging: Sometimes slides need more text. Sometimes they don’t. (The real answer to this question is in the tip above.) When you do have a lot of text, you can always break it up into smaller chunks. Or, consider writing the extra text in the speaker notes and sharing it with your students for reference. Either way, make sure your slides are easy to read and have a compelling visual image to accompany them when possible.
  • Build in interaction: Google Slides has a feature where audience members can ask a question and vote on it, but even without, think about moments within your presentation that you can stop and interact with your students. More importantly, when can they interact with each other?
  • Circle back at the end: Have students write a $2 summary on a Jamboard or IdeaBoard at the end of the presentation (10 cents a word, with key words free), or use a program like Kahoot! to make a quick, interactive quiz.

Student Presentations

As the Student

It’s not just about your presentations, either. Most state standards now require our students to have facility with presenting while using a variety of multimedia tools to do so. And what an important, lifelong skill to learn!

I will be the first to tell you that sitting through thirty student presentations is…challenging. And sometimes, sleep-inducing. Yet in remote and traditional teaching, student presentations are here to stay. So if we’re asking students to create and deliver these, why not take some proactive steps to ensure your students’ presentations are they best they can be?

Tips for Supporting Students
  • Teach presentation skills: like most everything, we can’t expect students to develop presentation skills without be explicitly taught. I like to show students examples of what not to do, partly because it’s funny. But it also has some great examples of what can go wrong when learning how to use presentation software. To get your copy of the presentation above, CLICK HERE.
  • Engage the audience: if you build an interactive requirement into the assignment (both for the presenter and the audience), listeners will be more engaged. Presenters might hold a question and answer, have a quiz question in the middle, or have a riddle that can only be solved be paying attention to the main point of each slide. Listeners can be asked to give a certain type of feedback, be on the lookout for a goal set by the presenter, or write a 20 word summary at the end. CLICK HERE for a list of ideas.
  • Use a rubric: provide students with a rubric that not only grades on the content of the assignment, but the presentation preparation, organization, and skills. This shows students that the presentation is part of the whole, and that the more they know about the topic, the easier the creation and delivery of the presentation will be. CLICK HERE for a sample Multimedia Presentation Rubric.

Hope you and your students benefit from these tips! Enjoy!

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One thought on “Remote Teaching A-Z: M is for Multimedia Presentations

  1. This is also relevant to the ( non educator) work world. If we can get students to better understand main points and key messages that helps us as their future employers!

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