Gayle Nelson is a Professor of Applied Linguistics, Interim Director of the Middle East Institute, and Coordinator of International Programs in the Dean’s office for the College of Arts and Sciences. She has published several books, and far too many articles to mention and has taught and conducted research across the globe. Her career is truly distinguished.
When she was invited for a panel presentation in March at the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) conference in Portland, she decided to bring her ideas to the Exchange to see how our staff of instructional designers could help. I was honored and lucky to be the designer to help her.
Like many people that are looking to create more engaging presentations, Dr Nelson was eager to build her PowerPoint in a more visual style, but was stymied by the complexity of the tools. But unlike many people that stop there, throw up their hands, and accept that they are stuck with master slide layouts and the default theme colors, Dr Nelson had a vision and was determined to make it happen.
Every slide that was sent to me had extensive notes about how the content should be displayed, which was a great start! Knowing what the vision is of the creative mind behind the presentation allows designers to help without getting in the way, or making a design that lacks authenticity. I was appreciative of her vision, and could then more easily work to try to achieve her goals.
With that information in hand, I was able to grab and incorporate images from creative commons sources like creative commons, wikimedia, and even the noun project for icons and vector images. That created a consistent look and feel on all slides in the presentation. Finally we made sure that smooth transitions existed not just between slides, but also between major themes in the presentation.
After most of the first draft was complete, I met with Dr Nelson to get further input, critique, and direction on how to iterate upon the design to better match the narrative of her presentation. A few slide deletions, changed images, and transition designs later, and Dr Nelson was ready to deliver her presentation in the way that she originally envisioned.
I heard back from Dr Nelson after the presentation was complete and she told me that she received many compliments on the presentation and it was the first presentation that she had given in a long time where she was truly excited to be giving a presentation.
This is music to our ears. It is our belief that when the technology gets out of the way, the power of current tools is such that any individual can create content to undergird their message in a way that truly inspires.
So, let’s take a look at some of the ways in which we helped for the Portland presentation.
Now, many of you may already have a plan for how to handle your title slides, but there are many more types of slides out there, and anyone at the Exchange can help you with those as well. Here are a few slides showing how photography and visuals were combined with Dr Nelson’s content to bring life to the slides that wouldn’t be accomplished without the visual. If you are looking for images that could help you achieve the same results, check out Creative Commons, as well as GSU’s own Digital Asset Library.
But not all slides are pretty pictures, and I was happy to help when Dr Nelson was looking to expand her presentation in ways that she could only explain with notes. Everyone has these sorts of visions for the discussions they lead, but making the tools work for you is the tough part. Take this request from Dr Nelson for a timeline. One of her slides contained only notes about what she was looking for. It said, “(On this slide I would like a timeline with these points on it: 15th Century, 19th Century, 20th Century) I want to be able to click on each century and have some text appear.” That’s a pretty common type of content for any academic, but it’s not just a simple template slide in any presentation program. The animation features of any modern presentation software can easily accomplish this task however. For simplicity’s sake, here’s a movie showing the build in for the entire timeline combined with the build for the 20th century’s first date. Keep in mind that this is just a movie of a standard presentation file, so the interactivity used here is just tucked inside of PowerPoint.
There were a few other animated slides that Dr Nelson and I created for this presentation, but all of the effects are probably better displayed using a movie file of the slides that we created to be included in her keynote presentation in Shantou, China. We had limited time to work together on this presentation, but I was thrilled to be helping again in any way that I could. These slides, and their animations, are designed to show the way in which certain concepts are related, using a spatial metaphor. This was accomplished using Apple’s presentation software Keynote, also available for your iPad, or Windows PC through the web.
Working with Dr Nelson was a true pleasure. We love to work with people who are excited to explore, want to create content that reflects their vision, and who allow us to partner with them to create the best possible solution available with the current technology. Dr Nelson was all of these, and she allowed us the time to do it right. I also thank her for being receptive to having the Exchange share her story in this forum.
If you are interested in working with the Exchange staff to reboot your presentation for an upcoming talk, class, lecture, or other media presentation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us and set up an appointment. We’re excited to work with you so that your content can match your vision.
Fair Use Images:
Dr Nelson – gsu.edu – available here
Title Slide image – Carolyn Richardson – GSU Digital Asset Library – original here
male & female on street – user Moriza on flickr – original image here
train crash – original image here
cowboy in the sun – original image here
hands in the air – contributor Urban Cow – istockphoto – original image here
man with white card – Microsoft clip art
MLK – Seattle Times – original image here