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Socal February meeting: Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides
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Socal February meeting: Rethinking the Design of Presentation Slides

In oral persentations, slide design can have a huge impact on audience comprehension and memory. Professor Michael Alley of Pennsylvania State University will discuss effective approaches to structuring presentation slides to maximize their impact. Do you have a label at the top of each screen and bullets and graphics underneath? If so, you can learn about a potentially more effective approach.

When: February 16
6 PM
Where: Socal webcast
United States
Contact: Mitch Boretz
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In many proposal talks, presentation slides affect the success much more than speakers realize. In fact, the way that slides are designed can greatly affect how much the audience comprehends and remembers. More important perhaps, the way that the presenter designs slides can also affect how focused that presentation is and how well key details are emphasized.

In most presentations, the presentation slides follow the topic-subtopic structure of PowerPoint—in other words, a topic phrase headline supported by a bullet list or by a bullet list and a graphic. In recent years, this structure has received much criticism. That criticism is not surprising because the topic-subtopic structure runs counter to what we know about how people learn when listening to a speaker and viewing a visual aid such as a slide.

This webinar teaches a completely different structure—the assertion−evidence structure—which is both more effective at helping the audience understand and remember the content and more effective at helping the speaker persuade the audience. In the assertion−evidence structure, the headline is a succinct sentence that establishes the main assertion of the slide. Then rather than supporting that assertion with a bullet list, the presenter chooses visual evidence: photographs, drawings, diagrams graphs, or words arranged visually. The assertion-evidence structure has achieved much success in helping professionals communicate their work. In fact, the structure’s web-site (www.writing.engr.psu/slides.html) has become the first Google listing for the search term presentation slides.

The main challenge in adopting the assertion-evidence structure is that designing slides with this structure requires significantly more effort. Much of that effort comes from overcoming the defaults of typical presentation slide programs such as PowerPoint. In addition, significantly more effort is needed to craft the sentence-assertion headlines and to develop the visual evidence.

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