06 February 2014

Exhibition pre-Zen-tation

My Grade 6 class is currently embarking upon their PYP Exhibition. It is the first event of its kind at my school, and one of my responsibilities is to make a presentation for the parents and school community about it.

The fact is, the Exhibition is a gargantuan task. The event itself represents the culmination of all learning and growth in a child's life to this point in time. Also, it is not an 'assignment', but a framework or set of guidelines within which students pursue an inquiry for several weeks. It has structure and should occur at a particular time, but the nature of the inquiry and how it is expressed is up to the students.

To help myself articulate the goals of our Exhibition, I actually started creating this presentation last summer. I suppose I should call it a pre-Zen-tation, because I was woefully unaware of design principles like those detailed by Garr Reynolds at Presentation Zen.

The pre-Zen-tation:

What you see here was not finished. I simply saved a 'before' copy before beginning to edit according to my new insights into presentation design and visual literacy.

Add images

Searching for images was easy enough, and I enjoyed the challenge of finding an image to represent each slide visually. Although I searched for Public Domain and Creative Commons Share-Alike images, I added them without saving their sources, which resulted in researching for them to be able to include credits. This would be a good time to express appreciation for Google search by image!

In some cases, I found great images by one well-worded search. In others, one search led to another and another. Some images had the right idea, but didn't work as slides. For example, the text I wished to include was difficult to read or there wasn't enough variety when the slideshow was arranged in sequence.

Images added, each slide took on a unique personality. Rather than being a place to put words, they became little conceptual stories.

Delete words

Viewing the slides conceptually, rather than as a means to present information, was my major turning point. It hadn't occurred to me before to think of the slides as accompaniment, as opposed to background.

Many words I had included suddenly seemed unnecessary, and I considered removing all of the words more than a couple of times. But as the presentation gurus all agree, each presentation has its purpose, and this is a presentation to communicate information, so the words stay.

I did prune, however. The text on each slide are examples of ways we have practiced and developed the different 21st Century Fluencies during the year and what we expect to see during the Exhibition. Some were too vague, some too specific, and I still have mixed feelings about a few others. Indeed, this is the perfect time to put out a call for feedback and critique, so your comments are very welcome.

The post-Zen-tation

Certainly an improvement. I can imagine that, while delivering this presentation, the audience will feel more connection and engagement with the information, and I will be more free to improvise with my speech to promote more interaction and feeling of collaboration that is essential to the Exhibition.

There are a few elements yet to be added, such as a slide about the expectation for a service project and globally-significant issue, and I feel that after those additions, it will be further enhanced.

New problem

I'm not satisfied. Reading so many great presenters' emphasis on 'story' has caused me to reimagine my approach. Why not tell the story as a narrative? Why not introduce some drama? Could an emotional ebb and flow be integrated into what I have already created, or should I start from scratch?

'...place these facts in context and to deliver them with emotional impact.' Daniel Pink's words as quoted in Presentation Zen haunt me.

I'm going to use the presentation as it is now, or at least a similar iteration, since this meeting is imminent and there are too many other tasks demanding my attention now.

I would like to continue this inquiry as my final project for the Visual Literacy course, however, with the goal of creating a presentation to capture the essence and complexity, passion and drama of the Exhibition.

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