Improve Student Engagement with the Perfect Presentation

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The perfect presentation graphics should enhance a face-to-face lecture not supplant it. With multimedia technologies reshaping the methods of instructional design, audio-visual learning tools are quickly dominating academic institutions—and for good reason. But when you sit through as many educational presentations as an average university student does, you can tell from the opening slide if it’s going to be an adventure or a downright bore. It’s possible to keep a high degree of student engagement with the proper presentation design techniques.

So, if your educational slideshow is triggering yawns instead of wide-eyed curiosity, it’s time to identify exactly what you’re doing wrong. Here are some things to consider.

A sever lack of student engagement. Many people snoozing at a boring presentation.

Too Much Text

One of the great benefits of creating a PowerPoint presentation is having a creative and convenient cue-card that guides and directs the flow of your lecture. While we don’t recommend this technique, there are definitely benefits in this regard that teachers can take advantage of if they need to.

Unfortunately, many educators seem to mistake this for an opportunity to copy-paste chunky paragraphs on to each slide. This can be off-putting for students, who begin to associate the slideshow with a dense textbook and quickly lose interest. Additionally, students can become confused about whether they are expected to read (the slides) or listen (to the teacher.) Contrary to one popular neuromyth, people cannot actually multitask – at all!

Pro tip: The perfect presentation will have slide text that is simple and short. In place of an overwhelming amount of text on your slides, try implementing more responsive methodologies. For example, you can keep student engagement high by adding open-ended questions and opening the floor for discussion.

A presentation slide with an overwhelming amount of text. Not the perfect presentation by any means.

Using a Generic Template

Let us preface this part with an important line: a generic template is better than no template. However, if you’re making the effort to select a template for your PowerPoint slideshow, you might as well make it creative and make it consistent with the overall theme of your topic.

Pro tip: Use custom images as backdrops, and experiment with colors to keep students attentive and intrigued.

A boring slide created in Powerpoint using only a generic template.

Over-Relying On Text

This is particularly true for longer presentations. No matter how fancy and aesthetically pleasing your slideshow, there may come a point when students’ eyes begin to wander. This may happen due to over-dependence on the slideshow.

Pro tip: Embed multimedia in your slides in the form of relevant videos. You may crop a small section of a related documentary, music, interview, podcast—anything that you feel your students will tune in to.

A powerpoint presentation slide with embedded video.

Meandering Monologue

One of the quickest ways to lose the attention of your students is to speak endlessly without catching a breath. Remember: presentation graphics are meant to make your lecture more engagement—and engagement comes from interaction.

Pro tip: When discussing a certain bullet point, raise a question and anticipate responses from the room. Encourage students to voice their opinions.

Abrupt Conclusion

A poorly-timed presentation can either make your students watch the clock every 2 minutes, or conversely, space out. Consider the conclusion of your slideshow to be just as important as the introduction or the main body. Time yourself, rehearse (but don’t overdo it), and make sure you leave enough room for a stimulating discussion after.

Pro tip: Reserve the last 10 minutes of the presentation for a Q&A where students are asked to reflect and pose questions on everything they’ve learned. Encourage other students to answer those questions and engage in interesting debates.

Serious beautiful young businesswoman showing stop gesture with both hands.
Serious beautiful young businesswoman showing stop gesture with both hands over white background

The Perfect Presentation for Student Engagement

Ultimately, your presentation is only as creative as you make it. It takes a lot of thought and effort to create effective slides that will enhance your lecture and keep student engagement high.

And that brings us to the final Pro Tip: Begin your presentation graphics design early in the lesson planning process – don’t wait until the last minute. That’s the best tip we can offer for creating the perfect presentation that is not just informative, but transformative!

Turn-Turtle Educational Media is an educational media developer, offering services for creating elearning courses, presentation graphics, video production, and much more. For more insightful tips and advice on how to present like a pro in a classroom or at an event, call us at 719.327.0127 and book a free 30-minute consultation!

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