Yenya's World

Mon, 29 Oct 2007

Presentation style

I have already discussed problems with creating a presentation in Beamer. When we have talked about the presentation style, Mirka has told me about an interesting approach to the slides-based presentation:

Some people use a simple rule: one word per slide. It may seem too little, but seeing some YouTube videos has proved otherwise. There is even a (Japanese-based :-) term for those short talks: Pecha Kucha. Also, I have found a very interesting presentation (by its style, not only by its contents): look at Dick Hardt's OSCON 2005 keynote (warning: probably not suitable for epileptics; thanks to Mirka for showing this to me :-)

For conference talks, it may help. While I did not use such style for my XXXI. EurOpen slides, I have much shortened the text, and made an additional dynamics by using covered parts of the slides, changing colors (red-emphasized words in some phases of the frame), and pictures which were only vaguely related to the topic. I wonder how the evaluation marks from EurOpen will look like (as of this writing it is not published yet).

I also wonder whether such presentation style could be used for regular university lectures, which should sometimes have to be more in-depth.

Section: /personal (RSS feed) | Permanent link | 7 writebacks

7 replies for this story:

Peter Kruty wrote: Pecha Kucha

Yea, I heard about this style as well. It is a bit similar to this one: But I think it really depends on the situation and audiance.

rz wrote:

Please, don't use this for regular university lectures, don't hurt your students. This is a circus style for shallow talks that don't bring very much of hard new information (which have to be kept in memory throughout the lesson). It disables the audience to listen+read asynchronously, which is absolutely essential for a successful lecture on the student's part. Furthermore, it is often necessary for the student to look a bit backwards to re-read a piece of information they have forgotten, but the speaker keeps mentioning. Such presentation forces a single thing into the viewer's attention, going only forward, but never backward. And frequent repeating would make this style a bad choice. You would have to talk exactly about the same thing which is on-screen, always, otherwise the audience would only fully pay attention either to your speech or your slides (or, more likely, to neither). And what good would such a presentation be? It might be good to emphasize a few bits of info during the usual lecture though. (Something like Cimrman's "ulek oslnenim":). I watched the said Dick Hardt's performance and not only have I gotten the impression of listening to an advertisement agent, after a few minutes I couldn't even remember who he worked for, what projects he had participated in and what he liked. This might not be a problem in this case, but it would be a problem in a university lecture, considering its contents. Plus Dick Hardt used a lot of pictures, which relieved the monotone of more-or-less equally looking pages with a few words on them. A lot of pictures also wouldn't be the case of your lecture. A large number of alike-looking pages partly disqualifies the associativity of human memory. I can very often remember a written fact by its placement on the page or by its surroudings. By what makes it different from other facts. Text-(almost-)only pecha-kucha all look the same.

Yenya wrote: Re: rz

Well, I think Dick Hardt's style is not suitable for university lectures. However, I have been thinking about shortening the text on my slides, and splitting the slides (increasing the font size). For example, I have some 150 slides for 2 hours x 13 weeks lecture, while ing. Brandejs has 450 (shorter) slides for the same timeframe. I think colors and an occasional image or graph can help too. However, you are right that one word per slide is too low for an university lecture.

Milan Zamazal wrote:

I always disliked fast-slide-changing-show lectures. Classic board was better because it contained more displayed information and it persisted there longer so it was easier to track the lecture or to refresh lost context (even after one awoke from microsleep:-). Perhaps a good slide show would contain just a single slide spread over a big wall, with current topic highlighted together with its context places.

Yenya wrote: Re: Milan Zamazal

I think the main cause of micro-sleeps is exactly that: you can read in advance what the lecturer will say the next moment, so you quickly get bored. On the other hand, the context of "where in the whole lecture we are" is important. Beamer allows this context to be typeset as a headline or a sidebar (current section and subsection name). Also, slides and lecture notes for further studying can be two different things.

Milan Zamazal wrote:

You are right that it is good to avoid advanced reading, so the big wall slide should display only what has already been said or is being talked about. But advanced reading is not directly related to losing attention, you can suffer from that for many reasons even when a blackboard (i.e. absolutely no advance information) is used. Why do you think "where in the whole lecture we are" is important? I can think about the following reasons: 1. helping the *speaker*; 2. when one expects that part of the public will get bored by the lecture; 3. when talks often tend to get off-topic and the public can forget what the lecture is actually about :-). One of the worst problems with standard slides is that (at least) I often forget what is the "foobar" thing explained a while ago, there is no way to look backward, asking about it is unsuitable and then I can miss a whole part of the talk. Additionally, text slides should be static counterpart of the dynamic nature of speech so they shouldn't change often. Well, it's all quite interesting and important, thanks for posting about it.

Spike411 wrote:

Peter Saint-Andre from XMPP Standards Foundation (you all know Jabber, right?) uses one-word-per-slide style as well. That's the only person I've seen to use it so far and I'm tempted to try it too.

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