On June 13th and 14th, I was fortunate enough to be able to present at the Battelle for Kids “Connect for Success” conference at the Ohio Union at Ohio State University. My Curriculum Teammates and I presented on “The Four C’s of Supporting New Teachers,” which revolved around our Resident Educator program in Massillon City Schools. While my teammate are much more involved in the construction of the Resident Educator program, I was tasked to “make the presentation pretty” using my technology skills.
I already had a basic PowerPoint from one colleague. It has some basic clip art in it, and then the bullets and titles and parts. One of the first things I like to do when I’m spiffing up an already-existing PowerPoint is to use a Google Slides Template. Slides Carnival provides many free (and beautiful) Google Slides or PowerPoint templates. The reason we chose to do Google Slides, and not PowerPoint, is the sharing availability, and the cloud features. There is another feature of Google Slides – the Audience Q & A – that I wanted to try out. I had seen this used at The Google Summit, and I wanted to see if it would work with the “non-tech” crowd.
So to choose a design for our presentation, I went with the “Puck Presentation Template.” Here is the description of this slide deck:
This free presentation template has a jolly, bold and lively design. You can keep the colorful palette, or recolor the circles in different tones of a single color to match your brand. Be aware that this design doesn’t work well with text-heavy presentations, as the circle pattern may compete with the content. However, it’s great to enliven the audience and convey a positive and cheerful message.
This sounded appropriate for our presentation. I wanted simple yet sophisticated, and I liked the color palette. There are 25 different slide formats in the template, so I applied each one where applicable. Our slide deck looked great. Here it is (feel free to click on it and look at the slides):
One of the first things you will notice is the “Short Link to Presentation Materials: http://tiny.cc/MassillonRE” This is the link anyone who was viewing our presentation from the audience could use to find all our presentation materials. There were several documents and activities we referenced when doing our presentation that we wanted our audience to be able to “steal” for their own programs. We put them in this shared folder, and then used a “Tiny CC” link for the audience to easily reference. Using a Tiny CC, or other link shortener like bitly or goo.gl, helps the user not to have to type a long web address. We could have also used a QR code, if we had wanted to. The Tiny CC link also gives us statistics about how many people are referencing our materials during or after our presentation. Here is what that looks like:
So, as you can see, we got 25 unique clicks during our presentation. The other clicks were my teammate and I checking the links before the presentation. ALWAYS check your links before a presentation! It is really hard to fix broken links on the fly, if you are presenting! If possible, do not check them from the same computer you are using to present – send them to your mom or your friend or another colleague, so that they are accessing the links from another place and domain, to make sure they work! The last thing you want is a room full of people wanting your materials, and them not being able to access them because you misspelled the link, didn’t fix your permissions to “Anyone with the link” in Google, or used an O instead of a 0 (that would be O’s or zeroes – easy to mix up), same with I and l ( I as in me, not l as in Lego)!).
At our link, the audience could view the shared contents of a Google Folder. We had a copy of the presentation, and five Google Docs. The key here is to make sure your permissions are set correctly. Here is what our folder looked like with the shared permissions:
Make sure the folder can be seen outside of your school district! That is VITAL to the success of your sharing!
The only other technology concerns I’d make sure to point out, outside of virtual concerns, are the physical technology concerns. Make sure you have a good, reliable laptop (we had two). Bring the power cable. Make sure you have a good internet connection (we also had a MiFi internet hotspot, for backup wifi, plus we could have used the wifi hotspots on our iPhones if necessary). Make sure to bring extra cables – VGA, HDMI, Audio – know what your laptop needs. And bring any accessories like a mouse or clicker, and extra batteries for those (they often get left on and tank out during your session!). I even keep a “Presentation First Aide Kit” with all those items in it, plus extension cords. Forgetting one thing may make the difference between your presentation going smoothly, and something being broken. Create a checklist. And use it!
The only other consideration is time. Give yourself plenty of time before the presentation to collaborate with co-presenters – even if it’s virtual. Give yourself time in the morning of the presentation to get to the venue and find your room. If you can get to the conference very early, you can check your connections in your room before the conference even starts for the day. If you are not the first presenter, make sure you have access to the room at least 15 minutes before you present. And when you are finally ready, remember that there will be some glitch. Just don’t let it get the best of you. Keep your audience informed and engaged. Don’t lecture straight for 45 minutes to an hour. Give people a chance to talk and laugh. And enjoy yourself! You can do this!