5 Simple Steps on How to Make Great Slide Presentations, Part 2

Last time we covered, Brainstorming and Outlining. Since I did not give a concrete example before, will give one now. This many help others get a better idea of how to go about this.  Still at time point a few of you may wonder when I will actually cover creating slides. Please be patient, that time will come.  

Many years ago, I used to teach English Conversation to Japanese students. I have also studied Japanese and some other languages as well. Not too long ago, I decided to give a presentation on I what I thought was the best way to learn a language. It was going to be a 15-minute presentation in front of other Japanese about the same age as me who were also interested in learning English.

Topic was big, so, I started to brainstorm. This was simply just writing down some words. Some of this may not make know sense to you.

Reading, Writing, Speaking, Listening, Pimsleur, Spaced Repetition, Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve, Memory, vocabulary, words, images, vivid, feedback, Anki, Forvo, Rhinospike, sound, translate, Michel Thomas, pronunciation, international phonetic alphabet, phonics, shadowing, most common word lists, grammar, gender ….

It was at this point that I ran a little bit out of steam.  I moved to a different place, against started again. I went back to a key word.

Memory, strong feeling, frustration, embarrassment, attitude, motivation, connection, location, situation, problem, solution, culture, communication, gesture, practice, schedule, anti-schedule, tiny step, habit, mistake, conversation, goal, learning, visual, audio, kinesthetic, step by step, practice, discussion …

You make think that these words seem a bit far from the original idea of learning a foreign language, but that is ok. I just took the train of thought to wherever it leads. It is not like I need to include everything. This is just to give me a few ideas on what to talk about. For me, all of this was very well connected.

Then I decided to create the presentation outline.  The final outline was like this:


Three Points for Teaching a Language


1. My Frustration with English Textbooks

2. Quitting Japanese Language School

3. Outline of My Approach

Problem/Solution Focus

1.Determining The Problem/Frustration

2. Imagining the Solution

3. Filling In the Gap

Using Our Memory

     1. Why We are Geared to Forget

2. Power of Images

3. Creating Connections

Creating the Learning Habit

1. The teacher is there only for pit stops

2. A Tiny Step and Big Celebration

3. Scheduling it in the Cracks


1.Summary of My Approach

2. Story of the Rose

3. Call to Pick One Simple Thing to Start

So, there it is. The outline provides me a general direction for how I want to talk about my topic. I can also look at to see if it makes sense to me. I left a few things on the cutting room floor. For example, I could have covered why there is a need to make changes based on the student’s way of thinking and learning preference.  I could have gone on and explained that some people are visual learners, some are auditory learner, some are kinesthetic learners. Another way of looking at is some need clear step for everything before they start, some just want to start and learn by doing. Some need to talk to people to help organize their thoughts, and others are happy reading at much material as they can before they tackle questions. I could have kept going on from there. It a topic that I like quite a bit.

However, I only had 15 minutes. I had decided that my main objective was give the audience a simple practical plan to start teaching a language. If I included the part on different learning styles and learning preferences, I would have less time for talking about memory and building habits. I felt that while learning styles and learning preferences was important, but not as important as the other topics.

Other topics were dropped too. Such as adjusting for cultural differences, or how learning about culture help improve understanding and retention. All were good topics that could help the audience learn better, but they were much less important. Since I had a limited amount of time they were cut.

In the end, I had to balance breadth with depth within the constraints of time. The broader I went the less deep I could go on any single item. To many shallow things and I felt no one would remember anything anyway. I kept it to three main points in my outline. Actually, I could have reduced the topics more. This would allow me more time for each part. But, you need to decide how deep or shallow you want to go. You decided this based on how much you think the audience needs to understand your point.

Consider all the thought above, the outline itself did not come together at one time, it took a couple of times writing and rewriting. But, I was also under a deadline so I decided that even if I was still a little dissatisfied, I would stop and move on. I would probably give this talk again away. When that happened, I would brush this up again.

I hope this example help you understand the first two steps of brainstorming and outlining. There are a lot of tricks in brainstorming to get good ideas out, but to start off writing, moving, and writing again works well. This has to do with the way the brain and body are connected. That`s another topic for another day. Also writing outline gives you time to think about your objective, your contents and your constraints. It is better to think about this here, than much later. Later you already have a draft, and slides. Doing big changes there mean a lot more effort and time.

Next time I will go to storyboarding for real this time.

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