Watching a presentation where the instructor simply reads the text on the slides is like going to a conference where the presenters read their papers. A large section of the audience could have read the paper faster and likely with greater comprehension of the content and less inclination to multitask or doze. If you are going to invest the time and effort into creating a narrated presentation, take advantage of its visual nature to do something you can’t do with a document.
There are two main places to start when thinking about presentations: visual design and multimedia learning theory. Mayer’s evidence-based multimedia learning theory is based on research showing that people learn more deeply:
- When the same information is not presented in more than one format such as reading text directly from a slide.
- From words and pictures than they do from words alone (spoken or in text).
- From graphics and narration alone rather than from graphics, narration, and on-screen text.
- When cues are added to highlight key information and organization.
- When extraneous text, decorative graphics, extraneous audio such as animation/transition sounds are eliminated.
- When narration is in a conversational style.
This blog post pulls together an overview of these strategies from Mayer’s book for a quick read.
One additional aspect is Active Processing as students must actively think about what they hear and see in order to integrate it with prior knowledge or adapt their current understanding to take into account the new information.
Considering accessibility of presentations, presentations saved to Canvas Studio can be automatically machine captioned but it is still a good idea to keep a copy of your script with your visuals in case there is a need. If you are using complex visuals think about how you would describe the visual to someone who couldn’t see it and keep those notes. They will help the Assistive Technology and Accessibility Center on your campus provide clear visual descriptions.
As Mayer notes and the above video shows, narration works best when it is conversational. While writing a script is highly recommended, be familiar enough with your script to be able to read it without sounding like you’re reading. The IU Southeast faculty who reviewed video examples also noted that many of the videos they watched had speakers who sounded bored or tentative. Lack of enthusiasm shows just as much on a presentation as on a video and if the screen is mainly text attention will wander early and often.
While many people find it uncomfortable to listen to their own voice on a recording, it is important to do it at least the first few times. You may not be consciously aware of verbal habits that may be distracting to your student. Umms and aahhs and wells as well as pens tapping or computer fans blowing or HVAC noise that you’ve grown used to can become a focus for listeners, distracting them from the message you are trying to convey.
Eliminating extraneous audio doesn’t mean eliminating all other forms of audio. Audio clips serve as examples, to emphasize a point, or to bring other’s voices into the story. Music clips can be used to set a tone or suggest a place and time. As with video, using background music can be tricky to make sure the volume is low enough not to distract or mask the narration. In addition, individuals with certain hearing impairments have an extremely hard time understanding speech over any music so be sure to keep a copy of your presentation without the music if a student needs an alternative version.
The content found here was designed by Indiana University and adapted for use by the Institute for Faculty Development at Vanguard University. This material is offered under a CC Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike license and should be considered under this license unless otherwise noted. The original content was imported from “Designing and Teaching for Impact in Online Courses” from within Canvas Commons.