I'm not sure if I'm getting more critical about presentation styles, but…

… I find it pretty interesting how my reaction to different types of presentations change depending on what the intended audience is. Today was the first of three days of Bibliographic Instruction presentations in my Reference course. Certainly I was reminded of Sean's critique of the blind use of PowerPoint just as Tufte critiqued it in his essay The cognitive style of PowerPoint. I'm not nor ever have been terribly enamored with PowerPoint presentations, which does not mean that I don't like augmenting presentations with visuals or with other multimedia.

None of these PowerPoint presentations were particularly good or bad, of course all had strengths and weeknesses. Generally, however, I avoid PowerPoint due to the following aspect: I often find these presentation tools valuable, but there seems to be too much of the use of PowerPoint as a crutch including reading off of slides, text heavy slides, bullet points, and otherwise less than perfect information.

I realize that these presentations are a bit harder to deal with than perhaps presentations where the audience were actually the real group that is intended to attend such a presentation (LIS studnets are not the group that is the intended audience for the majority of these presentations for example), but still making assumptions that the audience will a) understand certain terms or b) would need/remember certain depth of information presented.

Many other aspects such as being time-conscious, allowing for interactivity, voice projection, appropriate use of quotation, multimedia etc., use of the space of the room, how one presents one's self (including dress, etc.) and much more contribute to the degree of success of a presentation. These are aspects that one needs to be aware of when presenting. I personally under-think, and prepare far less than I would otherwise want to structure for a session to allow for participation, question asking, slower diction, explaining tough concepts etc. This doesn't mean that I under-prepare in general, but rather that I plan for there to be time for questions and other interactive elements, whether teaching. Now none of this means that the presentations that I have seen in the last weeks in classes and otherwise have not been amazingly well prepared and otherwise good — they are. But I think I'm becoming much more aware of these aspects, particularly as I produce more presentations.

As Tufte and Sean remind us, always being cognizant of the tools being used, be they technological, or pedagogical tools, or even the choice of pictures, video, oral presentation skills and much much more. I have often run into technical issues when producing a less traditional non-PowerPoint presentation, but I still continue trying different techniques, depending entirely on the type of presentation I am working on. Sometimes working in a group (of various sizes) is more conducive to good presentations, but sometimes this works as a detriment due to styles and other potential conflicts.

There is something to be said for conventions of fields, environments or otherwise, however. If the expectation is one thing and you want to do another, having good reason for doing so is important. Why use a particular piece of technology unless you have good reason?

Anywho, these musings are perhaps a bit more scholarly than my usual, but I rather think this has been on my mind all semester.