Giving a Presentation or Teaching Online? Engagement is NOT Just About the Strategies Part II

Part I of this series on virtual audience engagement describes engagement and the “YOU” factors that contribute to participant or student engagement in virtual presentation, professional development workshops, webinars, or online courses.

Moving past the personal factors, what is an online teacher or presenter to do to keep our audiences engaged?

The good news is there is a lot we can do.

The bad news is there is a lot we can do.

The trick is selecting the right strategies and applying them with intention and purpose.

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Giving a Presentation or Teaching Online? Engagement is NOT Just About the Strategies

Are you teaching or giving presentations online these days? Aren’t we all! Higher ed courses, professional development courses, conference presentations, or even facilitating online meetings – we’re even attending online happy hours, graduation parties, and weddings!

And we’re getting tired. Tired of connecting in a virtual world, tired of worrying about how our faces and backgrounds look in our webcams, and just plain tired of sitting in our spaces staring at our screens.

So, we go online and search for strategies. We ask colleagues for activities, in search of that magic protocol or brilliant new tech tool that will wow our audiences and get them excited about screen time. But the truth is, if you step back a moment and consider your own mindset about audience engagement and the purpose of focusing on engagement, you’ll find there’s a lot more to it. Let’s give it a try, shall we?

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New Year, New Newsletter: What is Professional Learning?

Happy New Year! Each year, just like many of you, I make… and usually break… the same resolutions, with the exception of one: I learn.

In 2018, I learned how to create and launch my new website. That year, I also learned more about educational equity and culturally responsive education, communication, and leadership. In 2019, I studied negotiation skills, learned more about the science of learning, and added to my Excel, PowerPoint, and data visualization skills. All of this “professional learning” informs my work on various projects and helps improve my professional practice. 

To learn all of this, here’s what I did (along with a few example favorites):

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Presentation Principles: Crowdsourcing Audience Feedback

Presentation Principle: Capitalize on the collective wisdom in the room.

Presentations aren’t just about the presenter and there are many reasons to maintain humility as a presenter. Certainly, it will endear you to the audience. Positioning yourself as a co-learner with your audience members, and not the only “expert” in the room opens up the possibility of having your presentations serve as learning experiences upon which you can build to advance your practice.

I first taught my course – Audience Engagement Strategies for Potent Presentations – as a pre-conference professional development course  at Evaluation 2015, the annual conference of the American Evaluation Association. This course became one of my favorite presentations ever.

Two interactive strategies during the course allowed participants to interact with each other, and also supplied me with important feedback.

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Presentation Principles: Two simple strategies for audience engagement and all YOU have to do is ask questions!

Presentation Principle: Keeping an audience engaged throughout the presentation is one key to success.

Do you want to read about two super easy audience engagement strategies you can immediately incorporate into your presentation practice? OK then, here we go!

I’ve written about audience engagement strategies many times (see here, here, and here)…but the two strategies I’ll share today are even easier than most and require no special equipment or materials. All you need to do is remember to use them.  (more…)

Presentation Principles: The Audience Engagement Strategy Book

Presentation Principle: Audience engagement through interactive strategies is key to a successful presentation.

discussion icon - audience engaement strategiesA presentation is a precious opportunity – Seth Godin

In summer 2014, I had the opportunity to write the Audience Engagement Strategy Book for the American Evaluation Association’s Potent Presentations (p2i) Initiative (available for free download on the p2i website). I’d written about audience engagement strategies before (see here and here), but this time wanted to share specific interactive strategies that come with sets of directions and steps, and that can be customized to fit a presenter’s specific context.  (more…)

Presentation Principles: Right-sizing the Room to Maximize Audience Engagement

Presentation Principle:

The right setting can impact how your audience experiences a presentation.

It’s the Goldilocks conundrum: You’re scheduled for a conference presentation (i.e., a non-ticketed event were people do not pre-register) and you get to the room, only to discover that the room is too small or too big for your anticipated audience size… definitely not just right(more…)

Presentation Principles: Foundations of Effective Presentations

There are multiple pathways to great presentations.

Some presenters are fortunate enough to be naturally possessed of  stage presence, charisma, or a je ne sais quois that keeps their audience hanging on their every word. After all, Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t use PowerPoint slides.* Steve Jobs never asked his audience to turn and talk to an elbow partner. The rest of us, though, are just not there. We’re presenting to the board, our colleagues, university students, fellow conference-goers, or some other audience who may or may not know us or be familiar with our work. “Star quality” is not something we can rely on for a successful presentation.  (more…)

Presentation Principles: A Q&A on the Q&A

You’re ready for the big day. You have your best content all set to go, well-designed visuals, and a plan for successful delivery including how to engage your audience. You’ve practiced in the mirror, on your family, and on your pets, and they have all given you the go-ahead for your presentation. The night before, however, you wake up at 3:17am in a cold sweat thinking, “How will I handle the Q&A?”  (more…)

Seven Simple Strategies to Engage Any Audience

I love PowerPoint! I especially love well-designed slides, and I have fun putting into practice what I’ve learned about slide design.

Once you have visually appealing slides that encourage your audience to focus attention on you and support your content…AND you have appropriate  content that is important, interesting, or imperative to your audience, how will you deliver it in an engaging way?  (more…)

#Eval13: #omgmqp, ESM, DataViz, Program Design, Blogging, and the Great Big Nerd Project

Here it is, less than a week after returning home from Evaluation 2013, and I’ve already used what I’ve learned in all three workplace settings. I’ve also enjoyed reading other bloggers’ conference highlights (see below for links) as they in a sense, let me peer vicariously into sessions I didn’t attend, or they enhance my own experience by offering a different perspective on sessions I did attend.

Here’s a recap (in a “longform” post, which, I’m told, is an effective blogging strategy) of what resonated most with me: (more…)

Unconventional Wisdom: Putting the WHY Before the WHAT of Presentation Design

There’s really not much good on television anymore. So, I enjoy some down time outside of work and entertain myself by designing slide decks. I just uploaded my second to SlideShare. While it’s all fun, there’s a purpose here too, and for me, it’s to practice what I’ve been learning about data visualization, information design, and presentations. There’s certainly no paucity of engaging, compelling source material available out there.  I’m so excited that just as I finished this project, the newest issue of New Directions for Evaluation (a publication of the American Evaluation Association (AEA)) – a Special Issue on Data Visualization – was released online and features the work of some of my favorite evaluators, data visualization experts, and information designers. You can read all of the abstracts here(more…)

Data Visualization & Information Design: One Learner’s Perspective

I‘ve been reading a lot on these hot topics and, ever the teacher, I know that applying my new learning, and teaching it to others is the best way to deepen my own understanding. With that in mind, I’ve created a slide deck and branched out to another social media outlet – SlideShare – in order to be able to share this content with you!

Once you’ve enjoyed this slide deck (or perhaps before doing so), check out my “before” slide below it. I originally had no intention of sharing this, but happened to stumble upon a PowerPoint presentation I had created for my dissertation defense. Yikes! What a dramatic illustration of what NOT to do on a PowerPoint slide! And I assure you, I presented it to my committee exactly as you see it here, and most likely read aloud what is on the slide (and the many others that complete the “show”). My only defense (pun intended!) is that it was 2007, and much of the information I share with you today was not yet “out there,” and quite frankly, I didn’t know enough to be looking for it!  (more…)

Declare YOUR independence (from bad PowerPoint) today!

It’s Independence Day here in the US and today, I’d like YOU to declare YOUR independence from bad PowerPoint. No more traditional title and content slides. No more endless bulleted lists. No more sentence after sentence slides that push the limits of slide boundaries. No more cheesy clip art “artfully” placed in the bottom right-hand corner of each slide.

Soon after I published “What NOT to Present” after attending a course at the American Evaluation Association Summer Evaluation Institute with evaluator-turned-information designer Stephanie Evergreen, another evaluator, Excel guru Ann Emery posted a link to economist and dataviz specialist John Schwabish’s slideshare: Layering: A Presentation Technique. As soon as I saw these slides, I knew I had to share them too.  (more…)