Talking Presentations

A couple of months ago I was asked to give a presentation at our quarterly department meeting. These meetings regularly feature an ‘in-house’ speaker and I’d somehow managed to avoid being called for my turn of duty for over three years.

So what to talk about?

For years I’ve been proselytizing locally about new approaches to presentations and PowerPoint use – and I’d got about half-way through Cliff Atkinson’s book – I thought that it was about time I formally introduced the Beyond Bullet Points approach to our site.

I finally got around to preparing the talk at the beginning of this week – I find tight deadlines always focus the mind. I hastily skimmed the remaining chapters of the book, downloaded the template and started constructing my screenplay and storyboard. A presentation about presenting; I called it ‘Telling Stories’.

To cut to the chase, I gave the presentation today – 3 acts, 30 slides, 25 minutes – no bullets.

It was the only presentation given at a department meeting that has concluded with a spontaneous round of applause.

But basking in my five minutes of fame is not what this post is about. After all, most presentations – no, make that all presentations – given at internal meetings here follow the old-style format we are all too familar with. By adopting the storytelling approach and using striking visuals I produced something so different that people were impressed by my temerity if nothing else.

What I thought might be of interest was a document that I found whilst checking some links I planned on sharing with my audience. Just before the presentation I found a link to Till Voswinckel’s thesis: Presentational Visualisation: Towards an Imagery-Based Approach of Presentation Visuals (large PDF-4Mb) – on the powerpointless blog.

It seems to cover pretty well everything that I was talking about in my presentation and more. I haven’t read it all yet but thought that it might be of interest in the current debates surrounding academic research into approaches to presentation.