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  • 1.  Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-10-2023 06:06 PM

    Like many I have sat through countless dull presentations and given my share of the same. Often, we are too reliant on bulleted lists. There is a better way courtesy of an NSF sponsored project. The assertion-evidence approach calls on you to build your talks on messages, not topics. In this approach, you support those messages with visual evidence, not bulleted lists. To learn more about the approach see: Assertion-Evidence Approach: Rethinking Scientific and Technical Presentations.

    It would be great to hear from folks that have used this approach and their experience?  I think it's a winner. 

    Mitch Winkler P.E.(inactive), M.ASCE
    Houston, TX

  • 2.  RE: Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-11-2023 12:47 PM

    Thanks, Mitch. Excellent info. I agree.

    William McAnally Ph.D., P.E., D.CE, D.NE, F.ASCE
    Columbus MS

  • 3.  RE: Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-12-2023 01:01 PM

    I hadn't specifically heard of this, so I haven't fully followed it in its entirety. (Thanks for sharing, Mitch!) I do typically try to use more visuals than words. Where I do have necessary lists, I like to have them advance one line at a time. Basically, I don't want you to have to read much on the slides. It is just a word or very short phrase.

    No one likes "death by PowerPoint" (as it is so often called), so it makes sense that we should find ways to avoid that mistake and give presentations that are more likely to be understood.

    Below is an example slide from a presentation I have for Architects on Civil and Architectural coordination. Instead of having a long list of items, I've broken them into individual slides and used arrows to point out key information where needed. This way, if I'm presenting both in person and online, I don't have to physically point at it or try to make the cursor easy to follow.

    And here is one example of how I like to do lists without making it just a list. As the slides advance, the word from the last slide moves down and turns blue as the new green word appears. The graphic to the right relates to the current green word.

    For anyone who is interested in getting more out of PowerPoint visually, I found this video (and others on her page) very helpful


    Heidi C. Wallace, P.E., M.ASCE
    Tulsa, OK

  • 4.  RE: Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-14-2023 10:58 AM
      |   view attached


    Thank you for raising the issue of how to prepare more effective slides.

    In my presentations, I try have many slides have two parts -- a declarative or similar statement and a supportive image. See the attached example. 

    In effect, I have been using the assertion-evidence approach but not knowing that was one of its names.

    I use the approach for various reasons, one of which is that vision is the most powerful of our senses because it engages more parts of the brain. Therefore, when we use visuals we are most likely to enhance understanding and recall. 

    Thanks also for leading us to the research paper.

    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author

  • 5.  RE: Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-15-2023 10:30 AM
      |   view attached

    Mitchell and others:

    Sorry, the sentence is missing from the slide I sent. It is "Prune your text and it will yield more fruit."

    I am also trying to resend it. 


    Stu Walesh PhD, PE
    Consultant - Teacher - Author


  • 6.  RE: Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-18-2023 08:35 AM

    Good info in this topic. I am tempted to add a few lines.

    • Visuals of different formats (often the selection results from the presenter's choice – in attempts to convey the message in clarity; the choice itself depends on the type of expected audience) are very important for presentations. Among others, it reminds the speaker of things – that he or she may forget during the presentation. Or to avoid any such risk.

    • The second importance of visuals is that – they are often expected to stand alone as part of the presentation – and are often referred to. In this context, specifying Approach is important together with other things.

    • One very important thing about presentations is that – the success or failure of them depends on the confidence of the presenter (visuals may help building up the confidence, but they cannot replace presenter confidence). Unfortunately, such confidence does not develop overnight – most often many lousy presentations precede future confident presentations. Professors, having the classroom lecturing experience – often have the advantage in this regard. But, I have seen many professors who were lousy presenter in the classroom (some even do not look to the students, instead spend all the efforts on the blackboard) – as well in the presence of conference audience of various intellectual levels.


    Dr. Dilip K Barua, Ph.D

    Website Links and Profile

  • 7.  RE: Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-28-2023 10:41 AM

    Bingo Dilip!

    Re: "The success or failure of them depends on the confidence of the presenter (visuals may help building up the confidence, but they cannot replace presenter confidence). Unfortunately, such confidence does not develop overnight."

    It has been said that the number one fear of humans is not death, divorce or losing a job.

    It's speaking in public.

    • One Reliable Solution:

    Toastmasters!  (just Google it for your area.. . and some chapters may be on your campus!)

    Cheers, Bill

    William M. Hayden Jr., Ph.D., P.E., CMQ/OE, F.ASCE
    Buffalo, N.Y.

    "It is never too late to be what you might have been." -- George Eliot 1819 - 1880

  • 8.  RE: Rethinking Presentations

    Posted 08-30-2023 12:42 PM

    I completely agree.  Confidence is built by experience and highly subject to the Dunning Kruger effect: you think you do it well at the beginning and then figure out how badly it has been and develop skills to create a genuinely engaging presentation. 

    I suppose I've been doing Assertion-evidence nearly the whole time, but it has gotten far more intentional.  I've given presentations on my PhD research at least 17 times now (in various forms). I think I'm down to only a handful of standard ppt slide in the entire deck, and even those have the text built up through animations and massive graphics--my typical ppt is over 100M--with about a slide a minute or more.  The first series of images is 10 slides and takes about 1:15 to go through: more like a movie than a ppt. The presentation last week was my first invited keynote and the most visual yet--with dozens of full picture slides, several laugh spots, and only a few captions.  I even did a morph tour through a large map, adding local images to the map as I went through the tour. 

    For those of us who are working on creating the bleeding edge, presenting is not an option.  It's a requirement if you want anyone to use what you have labored so hard to create.  Boring people in a presentation isn't an option either.  Eye contact and speaking from the slides rather than reading them is crucial.  If I have more than one sentence on a slide, I'm likely to make it two and cover them both in less time than I would have for the original slide.      

    On the other hand, time management is another issue entirely.  I can't seem to get through 4 years of research in the (trimmed) amount of time I'm given--and there's always trim.  Don't forget as you're practicing to remain aware of your pacing (and don't lose that pace when you present) and allow for time for introductions/announcements/minutiae that will put you behind schedule.    

    On the plane ride over, I sat next to a homiletics (preaching) professor from a very prestigious seminary.  He told me the one thing he tries to get his students to do is to hone the talk down to one thought to get across.  I'm not there yet, but I can see the value in it.   

    As for fear, when you quit worrying about what they are going to think about you and start thinking about what you are giving to them, the fear evaporates.  Excitement remains--and they feel the same in your body--just translate it for yourself differently.  I take great pains to make sure I am happy with how I look before I leave and then refuse to think about it again.  I'm more focused on how those around me look, feel, and respond.     

    Patricia Tice P.E., M.ASCE
    Post Doctoral Scholar
    Winter Garden FL