Don’t overload the channels

Bad PowerPoint

Today I got a reminder that teachers don’t necessarily remember that effective teaching equates pretty closely with effective speaking. A colleague at the lunch table commented on the ineffectiveness of teachers who will stand at the front of the room and read off a PowerPoint slide. Continue reading “Don’t overload the channels”

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Before you reach Plan D

Presenting naked

A participant in a recent program on “PowerPoint CPR” asked me how I prepare for equipment failure. Irma Perry, a former Toastmasters International Director, put it this way: “I wondered if you come prepared with ‘extra’ equipment, in the event of equipment failure — been there done that, but used ‘paper handouts’ as I didn’t have extra equipment.”

Good question, because it’s bound to happen, isn’t it? My wife hates it when I talk about Murphy’s Law, but I consider it a positive thing: if you recognize the reality of Murphy’s Law, you plan to overcome its effects.

My definitive answer: it depends. Continue reading “Before you reach Plan D”

photo by: JoshuaBloom
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Shoot down slideware bullet points

NASA's bad slide
No wonder no one could figure out what happened

As of this writing, it has been 24 years since 1988 (man, you don’t know how old that makes me feel). You would think that would be enough time for us to figure out that filling slides with text doesn’t work.

Why 1988? That’s the year John Sweller formulated Cognitive Load Theory, a theory about how we learn things. It’s related to the work of Princeton’s George A. Miller in 1956 that suggests we can only retain around seven discrete items in short-term memory. Though CLT has a number of implications for learning, we’re concerned here with the insight that when we are presented with both a written and an “out loud” version of the same information, we ignore one or the other. In other words, we can’t listen and read at the same time. Continue reading “Shoot down slideware bullet points”

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