Today we’re looking at the problems presenters run into when they use a template slide.
In an effort to create a more visually appealing presentation you may have selected one of the preloaded templates in your presentation software. Using a template is not necessarily a bad choice, but unfortunately most templates encourage you to create slides with much too much text, and as a result encourages you to provide more information than your students can consume.
Just think about it, when you see a text filled slide, are you listening to the presenter, or are you reading the slide? If you’re reading the slide, can you hear what the presenter is saying? When the slide changes, can you remember any of it?
Our slide template example
Let’s take a look at this slide template from a presentation on ADDIE. ADDIE is an acronym for an instructional design process model which many course designers use to guide the development of a course.
The presenter began with a presentation template, which has been designed to represent content on a piece of paper.
Consider this slide, the first slide shown as part of this presentation, in 3-5 seconds can you tell what this slide is trying to say? Second, what is the likelihood the presenter is reading this definition to the class? Finally, is there a better way to illustrate a process using a visual that helps the student immediately understand ADDIE is an iterative process of course design?
Eventually, this presenter adds a much need illustration on the second to last slide of the presentation.
Here we can see the limitations of using the presentation template without considering the content being placed on the slide. This image has been inserted as an overlay onto the slide template . Can you notice the problems with colour, fonts and alignment?
How can we improve this presentation?
It’s not that this slide template is designed badly, although it has been designed to highlight text, it’s that it’s used on every slide without thought to the content.
The second error is the amount of text on the slides. We’re only looking at two slides in this presentation, but every other slide is text only.
This is what led to the term “Death by PowerPoint”, as a presenter, you’re letting the slide template dictate what to put on the slide. Instead of thinking about what your students need to help them understand as part of the design process of your presentation, you’re really using it as a prompt for your talk, and that leads you to put everything you want to say on your slide.
4 tips for a better slide
- Create a style guide. Using a style guide to help you create your presentation slides is important, afterall, you want to be sure the design of your slides is consistent. A consistent design will help your students become familiar with how you’re presenting the content, and have confidence the information is being presented in a logical sequence. Select colours, fonts, icons, images, chart and illustration designs that work well together and implement them throughout your presentation. When you have a style guide you are not dependent on following the template design on every single slide.
- Consider the content on the slide. For the ADDIE illustration above, you need a full image slide, not one that adds unnecessary graphic elements which can be distracting your students from the important information. Help your learners by putting on the slide what is really important to their understanding.
- Always, rephrase definitions into your own words. When you click off the definition slide will anyone remember it? Be short, succinct and reference where your original definition came from. It may surprise you to know I found this exact definition in more than one presentation. Be sure you reference direct quotes, and share your resources.Try rephrasing this definition for the slide in your own words, how about … ADDIE is an instructional design model to use in creating your course… and use your voice to explain what you mean. If you need more notes, use a handout, or your notes pane.
- Represent only one thought on each slide. There is no rule about how many slides you can have in a presentation. You should have as many as it takes to make it easy for your students to follow your content. Split this first slide into the ADDIE definition, followed by the ADDIE process illustration.
A simple graphic design, the term ADDIE prominent and easily read, with a definition in my own words.
But wait, what about all the information we need to tell them – if your students really need to remember dates and details on the historical development of ADDIE, use a handout, or provide references in the Notes Panel.
Create an image to represent the process. ADDIE is a process with Evaluation at the centre, after each step of the process you go through an evaluation phase. There are of course many different, and more creative ways to represent a process map, but this one is straight forward and isn’t confusing the process with extra graphic elements, or text on the slide.
Following the presentation of the model, create a series of slides that further define the ADDIE process. These slides, presented in sequence using a push transition (follow the arrows), help to emphasis the fluidity of the process.
As you develop your presentation slides, follow your style guide, limit your text, and use graphic elements to help present the information clearly.
We’re not graphic designers, we’re course developers, and these slides can be created by anyone. They provide information in bite size pieces that make it possible for your students to consume and understand.
When you use a slide template, remember you still need to limit the amount of text and make your images fill the entire slide.
Remember slides are effective when your students quickly get the main point, and are able to bring their attention back to you, the instructor.