Teachers at all levels are more or less professional presenters. What else would you call facilitating education by presenting information to students every day?
Presenting to adults at higher education levels, particularly graduate-level lectures, can be the most challenging of all. After all, the most effective teacher presentations often are the simplest designs. Yet how do you transform complex teacher presentation ideas into simple slide decks? How do you keep students engaged when presenting highly detailed or otherwise mundane information?
Of course, some of the world’s greatest presentations can be seen at TED Talks, where experts educate and inspire audiences on practically all teacher presentation ideas under the sun, including how to be a better presenter. And many of those experts are teachers and educators in their own rights.
We took a look at a variety of TED Talks presentations for examples of how some teachers are leveling up their teacher presentation skills.
1. Utilize visual aids
It’s no secret that people respond to visual information. After all, 90% of all information transmitted by the human brain is visual, according to researcher and author David Hyerle’s “Thinking Maps.” Of course much of the information presented in higher education is technical in nature and not very visual.
At the same time, educators struggle to communicate an understanding and appreciation of the arts while focusing on math, science and technology. Both problems might be solved with a single solution: integrate more graphics and data visualizations when designing teacher PowerPoint (ppt) presentations on non-visual topics.
“I think our mission is to reconcile, to reintegrate science and the arts, because right now, there's a schism that exists in popular culture,” astronaut, engineer and educator Mae Jemison said in a 2002 TED Talk.
“People have this idea that science and the arts are really separate; we think of them as separate and different things. And this idea was probably introduced centuries ago, but it's really becoming critical now, because we're making decisions about our society every day that, if we keep thinking that the arts are separate from the sciences, and we keep thinking it's cute to say, ‘I don't understand anything about this one, I don't understand anything about the other one,’ then we're going to have problems.”
2. Speak to your audience
When designing a teacher ppt presentation, always consider your audience. What is their education level and background in the subject? What are their outside interests, and what sort of humor would they appreciate? Meet your audience where they are, and educate from there.
“We have built our education systems on the model of fast food. This is something Jamie Oliver talked about the other day,” author, educator and creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson explained in a 2006 TED Talk.
“There are two models of quality assurance in catering. One is fast food, where everything is standardized. The other is like Zagat and Michelin restaurants, where everything is not standardized, they're customized to local circumstances. And we have sold ourselves into a fast-food model of education, and it's impoverishing our spirit and our energies as much as fast food is depleting our physical bodies.”
“So I think we have to change metaphors,” Robinson continued. “We have to go from what is essentially an industrial model of education, a manufacturing model, which is based on linearity and conformity and batching people. We have to move to a model that is based more on principles of agriculture. We have to recognize that human flourishing is not a mechanical process; it's an organic process. And you cannot predict the outcome of human development. All you can do, like a farmer, is create the conditions under which they will begin to flourish.”
3. Tell a story
People respond to stories. They inspire emotion and are more readily cemented into memories. No matter your subject matter, weave stories into your presentation. The protagonist could be your audience, a product, your data or even yourself. When facts are communicated in the form of a story, they bear more meaning and come to life for the audience.
“For thousands of years, illiterate generations would pass on their values and their culture from generation to generation, and they would stay intact. So there's something kind of magical about a story structure that makes it so that when it's assembled, it can be ingested and then recalled by the person who's receiving it,” CEO and expert presentation designer Nancy Duarte said in a now-famous 2011 TED Talk.
“So basically, a story, you get a physical reaction; your heart can race, your eyes can dilate, you could talk about, ‘Oh, I got a chill down my spine’ or, ‘I could feel it in the pit of my stomach.’ We actually physically react when someone is telling us a story.”
4. Keep it simple
Simplicity is one of the basic rules for creating a presentation. It’s easy to overdo it when adding information to slides, especially when presenting complex subject matter. Educators almost always will have more information to present than they can include in their slide deck.
“The most common mistake I see is slides that are overcrowded. People tend to want to spell everything out and cover too much information,” Paul Jurczynski, co-founder of Improve Presentation who works with TED speakers in designing stellar presentations, said in an interview. “The golden rule is to have one claim or idea per slide. If you have more to say, put it on the next slide.”
5. Interact with students
Four of every five professionals say they lost focus during the last presentation they attended. Yikes! That’s a lot of eyes looking away from the speaker. While maintaining audience engagement can be a challenge, certain strategies are effective at recapturing attention and creating lasting memories.
One way is through literal engagement— interacting with students and making them part of the presentation. This can be accomplished through activities as simple as a question and answer session or as entertaining as a game.
“Students learn best when they're actively practicing. We wanted to engage them, to have them grapple with ambiguity and guide them to synthesize the key ideas themselves,” Google research director Peter Norvig, who led a Stanford interactive webcast consisting of more than 100,000 students, explained in a 2011 TED Talk. “We mostly avoid questions like, ‘Here's a formula, now tell me the value of Y when X is equal to two.’ We preferred open-ended questions.”
6. Make it fun
Presentations often bear the reputation of being dull and boring, not an activity most people are excited to attend. What better way to keep audiences engaged and deliver a memorable and educational presentation than by making it fun?
Students of all levels will appreciate the entertainment, and they will be more likely to pay close attention and remember what is communicated. Fun can be accomplished through storytelling, humor, audience interaction or classroom games, just to name a few.
“If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often,” Robinson said in a 2013 TED Talk. “Children are natural learners. It's a real achievement to put that particular ability out, or to stifle it. Curiosity is the engine of achievement. Now the reason I say this is because one of the effects of the current culture here, if I can say so, has been to de-professionalize teachers.”
7. Make it available
A stellar benefit of visual presentations for education is their staying power. Students don’t have to rely on their notes and personal interpretation of a lecture. Your very thoughts and designs will be available for future reference anywhere students have an internet connection (or without one if they’ve downloaded Beautiful.ai’s offline Desktop Player).
“When you let students work at their own pace— we see it over and over again— you see students who took a little bit extra time on one concept or the other, but once they get through that concept, they just race ahead,” entrepreneur and educator Salman Khan, who developed the online video-based Khan Academy, said in a 2011 TED Talk.
“And so the same kids that you thought were slow six weeks ago, you now would think are gifted. And we're seeing it over and over again. It makes you really wonder how much all of the labels maybe a lot of us have benefited from were really just due to a coincidence of time.”
Beautiful.ai users can easily send and share their presentations with teams, colleagues or students. The privacy settings let you control who can access your teacher presentation, and Beautiful.ai will send invitees links on your behalf, so you can easily share slide decks with whoever you choose.
You can also copy a shareable link to your clipboard, and paste it into your own email to share the presentation with entire classes. Teachers even can embed their entire presentations straight to their personal or school’s website or blog.