Lorenzo Walker Tech HS & Institute of Tech

Monday, June 11, 2007

Off the Shelf 0607-25

Beyond Bullet Points
By Cliff Atkinson
© 2005

PowerPoint presentations – they are everywhere! Teachers use them, students create them, and business professionals depend on them. But how effective are most of these presentations? How often has your mind dulled with the next bullet point? How different are these bullet points from the traditional tedious lecture?

Building on the foundation of research of educational psychologist, Richard E. Mayer, Ph.D., the author proposes a new and more effective way of using PowerPoint software for presentations. For example, Mayer’s cognitive theory of multimedia learning proposes the following principles (p.208-215):

  • People learn better from words and pictures, than from words alone – instead of using mostly text and a few pictures, Atkinson suggests that the only words are those in the title and the remaining part of the slide is filled with a graphic or photograph. He then suggests that the “Notes” section of the slide contain the narration that is read aloud.
  • People learn better when information is presented in bite-size segments – using a storyboarding structure and sequence, chunks of information are easily transferred to individual slides.
  • People learn better when information is presented in a conversational style rather than a formal one – write a complete sentence for your title with a subject and a verb in active tense that is simple, clear, and direct. When presenting, use a relaxed and casual voice, like you are talking over a cup of coffee at the kitchen table.

Although there’s a lot of research-based substance to this book, it is written as a step-by-step manual. The storyboarding ‘how to’ process of creating more effective PowerPoint presentations comes complete with Storyboard Formatter download! It is not easy to ignore the familiar ‘bells and whistles’ of old, but I would strongly recommend trying out these concepts for better learning, motivation, and inspiration!

My recommendation: 4 out of 5 stars

Submitted by M. Coleman, Media Specialist

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