No better way to sink a lesson

This post was originally written over a year ago. I discovered it lurking in my drafts folder and thought it was worth posting even though it references a dated news story.

“As a professional speechwriter, I often tell my clients that there’s no better way to sink a speech than to build it around a Powerpoint presentation. Watching Mitt Romney’s much-hyped health care speech only confirmed that theory.”
David Meadvin

This quote, from the Presentation Magic blog, is a fabulous summary of what is wrong with many speeches, lectures, and presentations today – that the speech is built around a PowerPoint.

But it's only half the story. It doesn't provide a solution. Fortunately, a simple answer is found by flipping this idea:

"There's no better way to improve a speech than to build your slides around your presentation."

The biggest mistake teachers, speakers, lecturers make is creating the slides first in PowerPoint and then speaking by using the bullet-laden, information dense slides as a teleprompter. The correct way to prepare a speech or lesson plan is to first determine what the important points are, develop supporting statements, facts, figures, and even script the presentation in what you feel is the most effective way. Only then should you open your slide software to create simple, visual supporting slides – including blank ones when appropriate – to accompany the points you want to emphasize.

That's it. It's simple. Stop building your lesson around the notes you've unfortunately typed into PowerPoint by habit. Start preparing great lessons by teaching using good practices that have been shown to improve learning, and over time develop some well designed visuals that support your important points.