Lunch-and-Learn on effective presentations

By Ellen Cicchitti

Online Editor

From 12 to 1 p.m., the Department of Information Technology (IT) hosts a monthly Brown Bag Lunch and Learn for students and faculty to come and discover more information about technology and its uses. Technology ambassador Kevin McNamara, a junior Computer Science major, hosted this month’s talk on how to give a good, well-designed presentation. This took place in the Trexler Room of the DeSales University Center.

Eight students attended, as well as two faculty members including Kat Lehman, the technical analyst of the IT department and the Lunch and Learn coordinator.

After thanking those who attended, McNamara started his presentation on preparing and giving presentations by mentioning how these are skills that one can use in any field.

“Presentations are not just pitching a project to your classmates,” McNamara said, “but they can be used for pitching games, business proposals and scientific findings.”

First, McNamara talked about topics, and how they and the audience will inform the kind of presentation one will give.

“Think about the points you want to hit, and then use those as headers on your slides. The first thing you want to do before that, though, is researching and gathering information, just like you would for a major paper,” continued McNamara. “A presentation is a condensed version of that. Just like in an essay, you need to decide on the information you want and the information you want to cut.”

His next topic was the contrast and comparison of three major formats of presentation software: Microsoft PowerPoint, Apple Keynote and Google Slides.

“PowerPoint is the most well-rounded out of the three, but Keynote is also the most graphic intensive–that is, it focuses more on placing blocks of images and graphs around the slides. For collaboration, Google Slides is hands-down the best one to use, but it’s not as robust as the other two.”

Next, he presented an example of a bad slide. It had a rainbow gradient background, different fonts and text sizes, too many words, and a small image with barely-readable text on it. Indeed, it was a bad slide–hard to read and distracting.

He mentioned color schemes and how black is good text for lighter background slides, while white text is better for darker background slides. One must have a good sense of color schemes. “Do not have text on an image,” McNamara warned. “Not only that, but just having too much text in a slide will take away the audience’s attention from what the speaker is saying.”

After that, McNamara talked about preparation in regard to public speaking and technical issues, and that backing up your slides in multiple locations is a good idea in case of technological failures or issues.

“If you are presenting in an unfamiliar location,” he said, “it is best for you to come with your slides and practice; you can see how sound carries, what the presentation will look like on the screen, and you can know the resources available. Then you can make changes based on those observations.”

Near the end, a few students asked follow-up questions. Though the layout of the presentation was straightforward, McNamara’s delivery of the topics made the Lunch and Learn enjoyable and effective in refreshing the students and faculty’s memories about PowerPoint information.

These monthly talks give students an opportunity to present and practice presenting, and they give faculty an opportunity to learn how to use particular pieces of software. As for the next Lunch and Learn, it will be on March 7, in the Kender Room at the McShea Center, and its main topic will be digital calendars and how to sync up calendars on different platforms.




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