Presentation Tips

Two posts you just gotta see (guaranteed you’ll get some useful ideas!)

  1. Janie Hermann’s interview with Jon Jiras of RIT Libraries talking about their amazing “Food For Thought” Continuing Ed. program.
  2. Janie’s follow up with Jon, reporting on this year’s (crazy successful) program.

For complete info on the Food for Thought program, see the Food for Thought Homepage. Thanks for sharing all of this wonderful info Jon, and thanks for blogging it Janie!



My learning style is about as visual as they come. Which means I like to load up my PowerPoint presentations and online instruction modules with images. Just yesterday, I spent a lot of time in Google Images and Flickr searching for the just right photo or graphic to illustrate an upcoming presentation. I’m sure you know how tedious it is to scroll down each page of results, click to the next page, scroll down, click, …until eye and mouse fatigue set in.

Now there’s PicLens! It wasn’t until this morning that I found Jenny Levine’s recommendation for this very cool tool. Tedium transforms to levitation. There is a sense of flying past the 3D image wall, hovering over sections, zooming in and out for near and far perspectives—a dragonfly view of the online image world. Using the same Google Image search that I had performed yesterday sans PicLens, pictures that I hadn’t noticed before jumped out at me. I could scroll the length of the few hundred results with fluid ease instead of giving up after 3 or 4 pages. You’ve just got to try it to appreciate the experience.

Downloads are available for Firefox, IE, and Safari. It only works on certain sites like Google Images, Flickr, Facebook. I found it pretty intuitive to use, but tutorials are available just in case.

… the widespread use of Post-it™ notes and cheat sheets reveals a lot about the way people learn and how they apply that knowledge to their jobs.

This is from an intriguing post by Tom Kuhlman on the Rapid E-Learning Blog: What We Can Learn About Instructional Design from Post-it™ Notes. I have to admit that I recognized myself in the description of a typical e-learning designer, who has a tendency to include “more information than is necessary to learn the task.”

After reading it, I did a quick tour of my office to see how many people had post-it notes scattered around their desks. Fourteen out of sixteen desks had visible post-its or equivalent note scraps. Why is the Post-it note such a winner?

  • Its small size forces you to record the bare essence of a thought or instruction. In Kuhlman’s words, a note does not contain all you need to know, but what you need to do.
  • It can be stuck on things to easily catch your attention.
  • It can be grouped with other Post-its and rearranged as needed.
  • Only the most immediately relevant bits of information stay within view, limited by the area of your desk.

I’m not going to convert all my training materials to Post-it notes, but I could do more to apply the “what you need to do” filter to instructional design. Along the same lines, Presentation Zen tells us we need to choose between deep or wide scope. “How much can I cover today vs. how much can my students absorb today?” Why not think of a PowerPoint presentation as a series of Post-it notes? Pare each slide down to the shorthand essence of what you want to convey.

Think Post-it! This is my new mantra. I have a Post-it on my laptop to remind me.

Free always gets my attention. The eLearning guild is offering this holiday gift in the form of a downloadable pdf of 162 Tips and Tricks for
Working with e-Learning Tools
. (Thanks to The Pursuing Performance Blog for the link.*)

The book is packed with ideas and best practices on a variety of tools—course-authoring, rapid e-learning, media, and simulation tools. All geared toward helping you avoid the pitfalls of exploring new territory.

Example: tip for course development

“When recording any audio narration, don’t record things that frequently change. For example, if you record this script: ‘The price for Product X is $19.99,’ a price change will force you to rerecord your audio. Instead, ensure you show the price onscreen, but record your script this way: ‘Here you can see the current price for Product X.'”

Example: tip for tool selection

“Do not look for an all-in-one tool solution. Use tools for their strengths, and combine outputs.”

These are just two out of 162. And the price is so right.

*btw, I found this link through my PLE. I’m discovering the difference between my feedreader and the PLE. In the feedreader, I follow a deliberate selection of blogs, intentionally limited by my capacity to absorb the influx–about 15 learning-specific blogs out of a total of 50+ feeds. By contrast, the PLE taps the vaster network of blogs, bookmarking sites, video sites, etc, on a specific topic, thus surfacing a more serendipitous array of links in small bites. The tools work nicely in tandem.

Trainers, like comedians, are great at borrowing material and making it their own. Fortunately, there’s an abundance of material, a copious urge to share, and the cyber-spatial means to do it. It’s not so much about avoidance of “reinventing the wheel” (why not?); it’s about envisioning new wheels built from found parts.

1. Some additions to the already robust CEBuzz blogroll:

Learning 2.1
The sequel to the world-famous Learning 2.0 program from PLCMC, this blog extends the discovery and play—“mashing up 21st century skills with lifelong learning.” I got my Meez (at right) through a link on this blog. (My apologies for being too cheap to purchase a more sophisticated gesture.)

Presentation Zen

It’s a bit heavy on the promotion of their upcoming book at the moment, but generally a trove of all things presentation, like where to get good images or Yoda v. Darth Vader.


A longtime favorite of mine for Will Richardson’s perspective on integrating cool tech tools into K-12 education, “working with kids every day helping them (I hope) become literate navigators of this increasingly challenging world,” and dealing with innovation overload.

2. A newsletter:
New Neat Stuff

I’ve subscribed to this newsletter for nearly five years and I continue to be amazed at Marylaine Block’s ability at resource discovery, like Wikivid, free video tutorials for course creation, and the Video Toolbox, links to video how-to’s, editors, converters, hosting, and more.

3. A resource list:
Stephanie Gerding’s Training Resources

I have described Stephanie as a super model of library training and an inspiring train-the-trainer. She’s generous about sharing her expertise and great at finding free resources.

4. And one example of information organization that is so comprehensive and elegantly organized as to make Edward Tufte drool:
Periodic Table of Visualization Methods

Wow – what a whirlwind month it has been since I last posted!  Training new employees, coordinating registration and travel to external conferences, meeting with management teams, serving on several committees, and putting out small fires in my wake have occupied the time of this manager of a department of one.  In the midst of all this insanity, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to attend Bob Pike’s Training and Performance Solutions Conference in Minneapolis.  Even though my work followed me from Georgia to the Land of a 10,000 Lakes (I guess you can never break free from the Internet – the electronic leash), I came ready to learn.  And when it was all over, I returned to my office feeling enriched and inspired. 

One of the projects that I’m working on is a series of Train-the-Trainer classes for our Librarian Is, who’ll serve as the resident trainers for each of our branches.  While I was in Minnesota, I attended Pike’s Train-the-Trainer 101 to see if there was any good content I could add to what I’ve already been building.  Janice Horne of the Pike Group was kind enough to share some seeds of knowledge that I’d like to plant here in the ether for our up-and-coming trainers:   

Raise the BAR with an Opener

v     B breaks preoccupation

v     A allows for networking

v     R relevant to the content 

BELIEVE in Yourself

v     B breathe into your nose, out of your mouth.

v     E energizing statements keep the class engaged.  Smile and gesticulate.

v     L love: come from a place of compassion toward your audience.

v     I interactivity puts the onus to learn on the class.

v     E eye contact with room is a must.  Find friendly faces in the room.

v     V visualize that your trainees will enjoy the class.

v     E eager to serve. 

Commit to ACT with a Closer

v     A action planning

v     C celebrates a job well done

v     T ties things together

Whether you need to jump-start staff meetings, establish a more creative organizational environment or just mobilize your own creative juices, do become acquainted with Chic Thompson’s What A Great Idea! 2.0 book and website.

At the website, be sure to watch Chic TV to find “creative strategies that will keep your brain alive.” Chic provides four great short videos (Mind Stretching, Shower Ideas, Guide Lines and Brain Exercise) you will enjoy and even download to use in your presentations.

I have used his brain plasticity idea to help participants realize that their brains stretch to capture new concepts much the same same way a stretched balloon never returns to its original smaller size.


For those of you who already use Post-it® Notes to help you be more creative, you will love David Straker’s book, Rapid Problem Solving with Post-it® Notes.

I hope that those of you who read this blog will add comments to this entry with details about your favorite sources.

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