The Study Dude – Present Visual Stories

Study Tips from a Semi-Anonymous Friend

There is nothing more that The Study Dude wants for you than to be selected as the next Ted Talk presenter?fully furnished with Study Dude tips on how to make a dazzling presentation.

Well, in these articles, as The Study Dude, I’ll try to give you the study tips you need to help make your learning easier. I’ll also give you straight and honest opinions and personal anecdotes?even the embarrassing ones that you wouldn’t ever dare read about from any other study tip guru.

Today’s study tips are based a reading of the book Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences by Nancy Duarte.

Key Tips for Making Slides
The Study Dude made slides and even multimedia presentations for school that involved long and tiresome bullets of texts?hogwash in short. But now, I want to make and submit a course on study tips for an online course provider, and the passé approach of making PowerPoints streamlined with text just won’t make the cut. So, how are you supposed to prepare PowerPoint presentations in the 21st century? Nancy Duarte (2010) has advice that will make you a model presenter:

– See audience members as the heroes of your presentations and see yourself as the mentor.
– Make sure slide contrasts between what is the present situation to what could be the potential situation. This is a primary theme in all of the speeches and presentations that Duarte analyzes.
– Make use of excellent contrast between emotion and logic, between the visceral and cerebral, between information and story by using facts offset with stories. However, it is important to keep in mind your audience, lest you stray too far into the emotional realm when speaking to a scientific study or vice versa.
– Use sound bites, or memorable little slogans or tidbits that you can repeat for impact, if you wish.
– Limit each slide to one idea.
– Storyboard your presentation on sticky notes, as the limited space on the sticky notes will limit the wordiness of your slide.
– Better yet, reduce large phrases to a single word.
– Use as many slides as you need. As Duarte (2010) states, slides are free, so use them to your advantage. Plus, the changing visuals add intrigue. This way, you can ensure that you limit slides to one idea each?I repeat, one idea each.
– As Hollywood often changes the visual every three seconds or so, change up your visuals as often as possible. It maintains viewer intrigue.
– Use your computer as a teleprompter and use a different computer for projecting your slides on a screen.

The Study Dude has learned that there are teleprompter apps that connect with your iPad that are brilliant for substituting as a teleprompter.

A Summary of the Process for Making Slides
The Study Dude made multimedia presentations that took many hours of analyzing the music to accompany a speech, modifying the speech so that it fit precisely within each beat and each measure, preparing visuals that were timed at precise points for visual effect and contrast, and selecting sound effects are certain points for impact. Those were the days!

However, Duarte demonstrates that the process for creating PowerPoints should be no less laborious, no less thought through, no less meticulous than those presented by some of the top presenters in the history of the world. Before we look at the process used by composer Leonard Bernstein, let’s examine the summary of the process for making slides as outlined by Duarte (2010):

– Brainstorm and generate as many initial ideas as possible, getting inspiration from a variety of resources.
– Begin to selectively remove some of the ideas, which Duarte (2010) refers to as “murdering your darlings.” Stick to only those ideas that reflect the big idea and dispose of the extraneous material.
– Start to group your ideas into logical topics, ensuring that each topic does not overlap the others. Make each topic heading mutually exclusive.
– Now that you have, say, a single word topic for each grouping, turn each of those topics into a sentence-long message.
– Order your messages into some structure that adds clarity and pizzazz. The structure could be chronological, in order of relevance, etcetera, not at all dissimilar to the orders you might find common to an essay structure.
– Each message should have sufficient supporting slides as evidence.
– Make your messages stronger with effective turning points.
– Ensure your messages have the contrast spoken about earlier, by fortifying your facts with emotional points and stories and by using non-traditional means for presentation intermittently, such as video, role playing, props, and so forth.
– Turn your slides into simple pictures or large single words (or small sound bites). The idea of storyboarding on sticky notes mentioned earlier would help to ensure that you limit the images and texts in the larger PowerPoint slide format.

Leonard Bernstein’s Technique Capitulated
At last, we get to study the technique of the incredible composer Leonard Bernstein who made the Young People’s Concerts presentations so enticing, so inspiring that they have left a legacy. His lecture concerts were the product of painstaking planning. The Study Dude is in awe of such detailed planning made by creative geniuses such as Bernstein. What follows is part of the legend’s process for making memorable presentations:

– He compiled notes upon notes of script ideas for the presentations, which he and his team would purview in detail.
– Metaphors and allegories would be examined to ensure appropriateness with the audience
– The editing process would be continual, right up to the point of performance, but wouldn’t stop there. The actual presentations would be video recorded and further studied (such as is done by top athletes), so that Bernstein could make further refinements and adjustments along the way. Conductors are known to video record performances and study them, so doing this for a presentation came naturally to Bernstein.
– “He planned every word and audience reaction carefully” (p. 189). He had scripts modified for every possible audience reaction, such as a specific script to be used if the audience laughed and an alternate one if the audience stayed silent.
– Bernstein even planned how and where he would stand on stage. Every detail was primed for quality presentation.
(Duarte, 2010)

In Duarte’s (2010) book, she does similar case studies of the meticulous care taken with presentations made by people like Alfred Hitchcock and Steve Jobs. Why shouldn’t your presentations be any less stimulating? The Study Dude believes that, perhaps with some refining, your presentations could be part of the next generation of memorable world moments. As Duarte (2010) says, “All of us are unique. We each have our own pattern of creativity, and if we do not express it, it is lost for all time” (p. 213). I want to hear what you have to say. The world needs your voice.

So, there’s nothing to fear. The Study Dude is determined to make right for you all the wrongs I made in grad school?one A+ at a time.

Duarte, Nancy. (2010). Resonate: Present Visual Stories that Transform Audiences. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons.

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