JANUARY 27, 2020: Avoid Death by Powerpoint: Take your presentations to the next-level with useful digital resources to engage your audience. 

Last Friday, we celebrated the International Day of Education. In honour of it, today’s post will be dedicated to one of the most used digital tools for student learning in modern times: PowerPoint! A software that has become essential to teaching all around the world. At some point in your classes, you will find yourself sitting down in a darkened room, looking at a large white screen, waiting for some technical difficulties to be solved, squinting your eyes to understand the small words, taking weird pictures of the screen as slide after slide pass by, making it impossible for you to write everything down and pay attention at the same time. Learn how to avoid this global phenomenon that has deeply impacted the field of education called: Death By PowerPoint! Watch below the TEDx Talk by David JP Phillips, the leading Swedish figurehead in the art of making presentations.

David JP Phillips is the author of the book “How To Avoid Death By PowerPoint”. He makes a point in reminding us that we are the presentation, the application is just a visual aid. Death by PowerPoint is caused by the poor use of presentation skills and digital software. Microsoft PowerPoint is the world’s most installed presentation application and some figures suggest there may be up to 30 million PowerPoint presentations created every day. A recurring teaching tool that we won’t stop using. David JP Phillips has spent years studying these presentations, through western science he proved something Indigenous Knowledge Holders have known for millennia, the power of storytelling as a teaching tool! In the following TED Talk he shares key neurological findings on storytelling and with the help of his own stories, induces in us the release of neurotransmitters just by listening.

Storytelling is powerful! We can use it to our advantage when we present. With stories, we can make our message come across better. We can find things in common by sharing our passions, hardships, embarrassments, joys, griefs and life experiences. Through storytelling, the audience remains emotionally connected to the content that is being presented and therefore a big opportunity for learning occurs. Death by PowerPoint can be avoided if the speaker uses the technology as a visual aid to enhance what is being said, instead of just relying on it. To serve the purpose of any presentation trust your own storytelling abilities. We can then use creative presentation software to engage our students with the stories we tell. One of my favorite digital tool that combines technology with storytelling is Powtoon.

Powtoon was born from the need to communicate a message without putting your audience to sleep. Powtoon is a user-friendly animation software that helps you create engaging, animated videos with a professional look and feel. Bring a touch of awesomeness to your presentations. Whether you’re teaching a class, presenting a conference or for academic projects- just Powtoon it. The digital tool is designed to allow education professionals and students to create content that is fun to make, fun to watch and gets your class hooked on learning. Read 11 Quick & Amazing Ways to Use Powtoon in Your Classroom to learn more. UBC’s Learning Technology Hub also provides another incredible digital tool called: VideoScribe.

VideoScribe is an animation software that allows instructors to create animation videos on a virtual whiteboard. Instructors can choose from an extensive library of shapes, images and text fonts, customize the animations, and add voiceovers and soundtracks. To get started please use this form to request a VideoScribe license. Licenses are available to all UBC Students. Support is provided by the Learning Technology Hub and assisted by members in the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) Media Learning Community and industry experts from UBC Studios. Additional expertise is available during regular DIY help sessions, drop-in at their scheduled times. A popular business competitor of Powtoon and VideoScribe that you can also find useful is Vyond, check it out! Finally, I have to write about the first runner-up when you force yourself to change and avoid PowerPoint, Prezi. In the following video learn how to create a great Prezi presentation with 5 tips to persuade your audience.

Prezi is a presentation software with more than 100 million users who had created millions of public presentations. It lets you create zooming, moving, visually stunning presentations that grab and keep your students’ attention, in any subject you teach. You don’t need to start from scratch, you can jumpstart with quick, simple templates to create the most effective presentations you can think of. There are millions of shared Prezi presentations out there, creating a wonderful digital community of shared information. Find one you like and repurpose it with your own content. You can use visuals and movement to jump freely from topic to topic, focusing on the material you want to cover. Prezi has a unique format that lets you show the whole context, displaying relationships between your ideas allowing you to tell the best story.