Customary presentation media used by trainers has changed dramatically in the last 20 years from whiteboards and flipcharts to 35mm slide projections and “overheads” to PowerPoint slide decks that incorporate multi-media. As with many examples of technology, we end up embracing a feature-rich medium that offers too many choices and a huge opportunity to make a mess of it--all because we lost sight of what our goals were in the first place. An illustration of this paradox is the cellphone carrier that is known for spotty service and dropped calls, but heavily promotes its features-rich smartphone. You must admit that the phone does cool things, but does it reliably deliver on its primary function?
Are our visual presentations enhancing learning transfer or are they a detraction? If you are using PowerPoint like word-processing software or as a teleprompter, the answer is probably “no”. Your presentation deck should be crafted to do what the medium does best for your audience: Support your talks with graphic information that illustrates your ideas. Think of your PowerPoint as the photos or drawings in a book, not the columns of text that surround it. If this sounds like an un-natural proposition, you are not alone. Look at it from this perspective: How many writing classes have you taken in your lifetime? Three? Four? How many graphic design classes? My point exactly. So can we really be blamed if we want to load that frame up with all that important stuff punctuated by a tiny little piece of clipart in the corner?
Garr Reynolds’s book “Presentation Zen” will get you to slow down and make you think about how to use this visual medium; Cliff Atkinson’s book “Beyond Bullet Points” will shape you up about organizing your message particularly when using PowerPoint and Nancy Duarte is the powerhitter in the field of presentation design and offers a high-concept, high-style textbook on design theory for presenters in her book, “Slide:ology.”
Today’s presentation is a quick-start lesson that fills the gap left by these authors and begin to build your visual literacy skills in the areas of color selection, utilization of space, image selection and typography, enabling you to significantly improve your visual communication skills and learning transfer.
Linda Ackerman--an avowed visual learner--has enjoyed a lengthy career in the learning and development field, working primarily in industries that attract and employ visual learners. While her bachelor’s degree is in design, she spent two years completing the required curriculum for the fine arts degree at UCLA that included classes in fine art photography, photo hand-coloring and illustration.
Her art studies began at the tender age of eight when her grandmother--herself a graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago--nurtured Linda’s love of art. Early instruction included the a foundation in color theory, requiring her to go to the paint store to gather paint chips to organize the individual colors by hue, value and chroma into a spiral notebook replicating Albert Henry Munsell’s pioneering method to “describe color in a rational [three-dimensional] way.” (Color had previously only been described using descriptive words such as "pale pink.") This was, no doubt, a challenging curriculum for an eight year-old, yet proved to be a breeze when presented again during her second year of college!
An avid learner of foreign languages (she’s studied five!), Linda speaks the visual languages of art and design fluently and enjoys sharing that knowledge with those who rely on visual media to inform, persuade and instruct.
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