Creating Presentations That Resonate

A Closeup of Handblown Glass. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 19 May 2016.

A Closeup of Handblown Glass. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 19 May 2016.

Are you zombified by student PowerPoint presentations and a bit dizzy after viewing spinning Prezis? This year I have been rethinking the librarian’s role as literacy expert.  Whether you use the term media literacy, digital literacy, data literacy, or New Literacies—all of these concepts have in common an emerging need:  librarians guiding students to grapple with meaning, communicate their insights in multi-modal formats, and, potentially, share and publish their work digitally.

This article suggests books and online resources to more effectively plan and animate presentations, thereby creating messages that will resonate with your audiences.

Nancy Duarte is a persuasive presentation expert who maps the structure of effective communicators (see her TED talk comparing the structure of great speeches by Steve Jobs and Martin Luther King). Duarte presents her strategies in two books Slide:ology and
Resonate.

Duarte, Nancy. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. http://www.duarte.com/book/slideology/.

Duarte, Nancy. Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations. http://www.duarte.com/book/slideology/.

In Slide:ology, Duarte estimates that an effective  presentation requires 36 or more hours to research; evaluate audience; brainstorm ideas; organize; solicit feedback; storyboard; build slides; and rehearse.  Tips include brain-storming with sticky notes and by sketching diagrams; highlighting data; designing with color and selective choice of text; and crafting a story flow through animations and slide transitions. Though 36 hours may seem unrealistic with demanding class  schedules, sharing tips will aid students in message making.

 

I was able to demonstrate some of these techniques in a serendipitous teaching opportunity; a freshman physics teacher asked me to advise students on incorporating their science experiment data into slides. I rented a Kindle version of Slide:ology and projected on a large screen examples of data graphs and charts, inviting freshmen to evaluate ineffective/effective design and to keep in mind Duarte’s mantra: “Data slides are not really about the data. They are about the meaning of data” (64).  Visually highlighting or emphasizing a part of the data can show an emerging trend or complication–a moment when data results challenge assumptions and cause a rethinking for the student scientists. As students discuss the highlighted data, they begin to show the audience the meaning behind the data.

Duarte, Nancy. Resonate. http://www.duarte.com/book/resonate-legacy/.

Duarte, Nancy. Resonate. http://www.duarte.com/book/resonate-legacy/.

In Resonate, Duarte  explores the power of stories to connect with audiences and to deepen under-standing.  I adapted a suggestion from the book, “amplify the signal, minimize the noise,” to aid freshmen in reading and assessing a quote by Adolph Hitler on the power of persuasive media messages (170).  In the slide example below, the quote was first read and then a series of animated graphics appeared in an equation format to distill meaning of Hitler’s message:

(All images from Britannica Image Quest.)

(All images from Britannica Image Quest.)

If you desire to share an example of how we perceive images based on entry into a slide (scene), show this movie clip from Hitchcock’s thriller, Strangers on a Train. Notice which direction the “good” character enters the scene versus the “bad” character’s entrance.  Since Westerners’ eyes are use to a left to right movement, entries from the right are viewed as disconcerting.  Students can consider this as they animate visuals or text appearances on their slides (left to right and top to bottom are more familiar ways of reading messages).

Hitchcock, Alfred. Strangers on a Train. 1951. Photography. Encyclopedia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 19 May 2016.

Hitchcock, Alfred. Strangers on a Train. 1951. Photography. Encyclopedia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 19 May 2016.

Explore more ideas on storytelling and making meaning from data in this archived webinar, “Storytelling with Infographics,” presented by Debbie Abilock and Connie Williams.  Abilock and Williams will also be presenters in an upcoming conference:
Virtual Conference on Data Literacy: Creating Data Literate Students hosted by the University of Michigan School of Information and University Library (see website for free registration to this virtual conference).

And for something totally different, listen to NPR’s interview with artist/rocker David Byrne as his explains his use of PowerPoint as Art.  Wising you a summer filled with stimulating reading and rethinking the tools we use to communicate meaning.

Messages in the Media

Eager for a collaborative project that engages students? A “Messages in the Media” unit holds great potential because it targets critical thinking and engages students in real-world contexts:  evaluating how media shapes decisions such as cultural values, consumerism, personal health, and self-perception.  It also provides an opportunity for students to be media creators, communicating their own knowledge in a variety of ways.  Several years ago I partnered with our Freshman Health classes, creating a media literacy unit to evaluate health claims of sports and energy drinks. This project meets goals of both National Health Education Standards (NHES) and American Association of School Librarians (AASL), such as

NHES
Standard 2:   Analyze the influence of family, peers, culture, media technology,
and other factors on health behaviors.

Standard 3:   Demonstrate the ability to access valid information,
products, and services to enhance health.

AASL
Standard 1:        Inquire, think critically, and gain knowledge.

Standard 3.3.3  Use knowledge to engage in public conversation and
debate around issues of common concern; 3.3.4 Create products
that apply to authentic, real-world contexts.

In this six-meeting, sports drinks unit, we evaluate advertising using a five-statement media literacy checklist developed by Elizabeth Thoman and Center for Media Literacy.

1.     All media messages are constructed

2.     Media messages are constructed using a media language with its own rules.

3.     Different people experience the same media message differently.

4.     Media have embedded values and points of view.

5.     Most media messages are organized to gain profit and/or power.

Screen Shot 2015-03-19 at 7.49.57 PM

Students view a Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) “Got Milk” ad to analyze the construction of media language such as the signature milk moustache, dramatic lighting and shadows (to enhance Wolverine’s bulging biceps), and angles of the claws that bring the viewer’s eye to the slogan “Got Milk.”  Students also discuss the embedded message—milk will get you pumped—and the embedded point of view—guys need to be muscular.  Contrast this embedded message with a Japanese commercial featuring the pop group AKB48 and the unusual girl member, Eguchi Aimi (computer generated from each of the “most perfect” features of the other group members).  See this funny sendup by Kaleb Nation as he argues why a “virtually perfected” pop star is a disturbing idea.

Armed with an understanding of media techniques, student groups explore samples of drink products—from Gatorade to Muscle Milk to Vitamin Water to Energy Drinks– developing a checklist of health claims from ingredient labels and packaging design and then suggesting health topics (such as caffeine or sugar content in these drinks) that will be researched using library databases and PubMed.  A Gatorade website evaluation also provides a critical look at marketing and health claims—this is a sophisticated website with many health research articles published by the GSSI (Gatorade Sports Science Institute).  Discussion follows on purpose and possible bias in this site and research articles.

A challenging aspect of this project is finding a dynamic way to communicate new knowledge and research findings with an audience.  Over the years, students have shared their research in Glogsters and PowerPoints with embedded media ads, but this year I set up a LibGuide to showcase excerpts of student Analysis Essays and Infomercial Videos.  One student, Anthony, created a “counter ad” spoofing Red Bull energy drinks and the slogan “Red Bull Gives you Wings” (see the ad on tab 2 of the LibGuide). His ad shows a cherubic angel guzzling a can of Red Bull with the slogan, “Get Your Wings Early.”  Anthony described his design techniques:  “(I used) rays of sunshine shining on the angel which moves your eyes to the angel (rather than) the warning labels on the bottom of the ad.”

New directions for next year?  If more class time can be provided for the project, students might create their own webpages using GoogleDocs or Weebly, and Videonot.es could be used to look closely at video commercials prior to writing analysis essays.  Here is a sample Lucozade Videonot.es I created to evaluate sports drink health claims (you will need to add the videonot.es app to your GoogleDrive to view).

Looking forward to reading your comments on how you are engaging students in media literacy.

 Recommended Research on Media Literacy

Pechmann, Cornelia and Susan J. Knight.  “An Experimental Investigation of the Joint Effects of Advertising and Peers on Adolescents’ Beliefs and Intentions about Cigarette Consumption.” Journal of Consumer Research 29.1 (June 2002): 5019.
JSTOR.  Web. 17 Mar. 2015. < http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/339918>.

Siegel, Michael. “Mass Media Antismoking Campaigns: A Powerful Tool for Health Promotion.”  Annals of Internal Medicine 129.2 (July 1998): 128-132. Web. 17 Mar. 2015. <http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/
download?doi=10.1.1.457.7829&rep=rep1&type=pdf>.

Thoman, Elizabeth and Tessa Jolls. “Media Literacy Education: Lessons from the Center for Media Literacy.”  Media Literacy: Transforming Curriculum and Teaching.  Ed. Gretchen Schwarz and Pamela Brown. Malden: Blackwell, 205. Print.