New Teacher

Using a Story Telling Model to Build your Presentation

Launching off of my previous post about sharing, I thought I’d share some ideas for putting together a presentation. Let’s be honest, we might all be teachers but if you’ve been to any meeting we’ve all definitely sat through really bad presentations.

First you choose the technique, demonstration, resource or activity you are going to share. Even a twist on an tried and true idea is valuable!

Remember the power of a story in lesson planning. The same holds true for a presentation. What are your four Cs (conflict, causality, complications, characters)?

Rather than start talking, draw your audience in with the main conflict. For example, if I were sharing one of my testing strategies I might open with:

Perhaps your conflict is a demo where students missed the point, or a lab that where students missed the big picture.

The next part is causality: what were the series of events linked to the conflict that make you adapt something new or shift? In the example I provided I would probably follow up with something like:

“AP Physics 1 has these exceptionally challenging multiple choice options on the exams. I need to give students real AP items as much as possible, but it’s not uncommon for students to miss EVERY item. “

It is at this point that you can start presenting your idea. Walk us through what you set up and why, making the your thought process visible to your audience. Did you run into challenges on the way? Or perhaps you had some concerns, initially. Did students end up doing something you hadn’t intended? All of these additional complications build a compelling story, and also help your audience begin to envision themselves going through your process.

Lastly, don’t forget your main characters! Your students! You know that, in truth, sharing of ideas is best done when you can actually do it yourself like in a workshop. When that isn’t possible lean heavily on pictures of students working, student samples and quotes from student feedback.

What about Slides?

While the meat of your presentation is truly in what you say and do, if you prepare slides it is equally important that they receive the same kind of care. Generally speaking you can plan on 1-2 slides per minutes of talking. Avoid font under 24. Avoid bullets. Avoid typing out anything you’re going to say. You know literally no one wants to hear you read your slides. If you need to say “I know you can’t really see this but” then you need to take it out. If you include any data, graphs or charts the point of the chart should hit you in the face. Don’t make your audience need to analyze the graph like an ACT exam! It’s a presentation!

Ok, so I’ve clearly nixed everything on the slides right?

Slides are a visual, so they should literally be that. Can you boil your idea for slide 3 into three words? Better yet a single word? What high quality images can you put on the slide? Keep the color schemes simple and readable. Bear in mind that if you have anyone in the audience who is colorblind pure colors might not be visible. Stephanie Evergreen has lots of great resources on this topic. Here’s a checklist for your presentation.

You Don’t Know Until You Try!

It’s ironic that as teachers we effectively present daily, and yet presenting in front of collegues (or god-forbid college faculty!) is terrifying! Remember a few things:

  • Everyone is together to learn and grow together! No one is going to chew you out. Even the absolute worst presentations I’ve seen still get a few questions asked afterwards.
  • You Got this! You’re talking about something you do in your own space. You are the master of it! I mean.. in as much as you can get up with confidence that you’re not going to mess up.
  • The positive feedback loop is real and addictive! Once you start you won’e stop! The encouragement and continued conversations from your peers after that first time make it so much easier to present again and again. Before you know it you’re running workshops!

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