Sunday, August 21, 2005

Wow them with your next PowerPoint presentation! --PART 1--

Yesterday, I was schooled in that fine art of PowerPoint presentations. It is only fair that I share this information to give med school hopefuls and other PowerPoint neophytes a running start at the fun and furious world of audio-visual presentations. Jump on it!

So, you're about to do a medical presentation and have decided to enlist the aid of Microsoft PowerPoint. Let me be the first to welcome you to the exciting world of adding color and pictures to your presentation. PowerPoint (MSPP) can not only improve a mediocre or even gut-wrenchingly bad presentation, but it can do so moderately well! However, before you start copying large amounts of extraneous unformatted text onto your first slideshow there are a few tricks of the trade that will help you turn that snooze of a lecture into a visually engaging one.

1. Background check
The quickest way to lose an audience is with an unexciting background. Who wants to watch yet another presentation with a muted blue-black gradient that draws your attention only to the text? At least 60% of the screen space should be accentuated with background graphics. MSPP has a poor selection of quality backgrounds, consisting of the 'notebook' and 'fireworks', both of which only use about 40% of the screen (if formatted correctly). If you don't have time to find better, more ostentatious, background you can make up for the aesthetic weakness with tips 2, 3, and 4. If you do have time, here's two winners I know will fill the projection screen with character:
Got a recipe to share in your next presentation?

Even Frank Lloyd Wright knows a good background!

2. Animation Station
There are two types of animation to choose from for your MSPP presentation: tasteful, appropriate animations and AWESOME animations. There are three pillars of animation - no wait, make that three keystones of MSPP animation: slide transitions, text animation, and looping.
  • Slide Transitions: In a normal slideshow, slides are changed without any of the necessary transition. This rough transition is as abrupt as an eye blink and just as unnatural. You would much rather have the interim thought between two slides be "Hey, we're going to open the curtain onto the next slide" (blinds vertical transition) or "Newsflash! Let's go to a new slide" (newsflash transition), than "SMACK!" (no transition). The previous leads to contented grins and lowered blood pressure while the latter leads to weeping and rending of clothing. Also, keep it fresh and use a different transition for each slide.
  • Text Animation: Do you remember the last book you read? Of course you don’t! Words in books are what scientists call “static” or non-interesting. Their value lies completely in their meaning, but luckily your words do not have to – your words can spin and then change color. Don’t rely solely on fade in or left to right sweep like an amateur. If you have MSPP 2003 you can allow your text the same expansive freedom afforded only to Americans and feral cats by linking several text animations in a row. My personal favorite is floating the text in from the bottom, fading it out, fading it back in, expanding it 200%, spinning 720 degrees, then changing the color to bright red. I call this animation “The Widowmaker”.
  • Unleash the torrent of mouse clicks: It goes without saying that you do not want to let any of the animations start on their own. Once you let the slideshow take control you have already lost. Make sure that all animations start ‘on click’ so that each slide is slowly unveiled like the antagonist’s motives in a suspense novel. You may not be able to write a lyrically as Dan Brown, but at least you can tug on people’s waning attention like he does.
Behold The Widowmaker

3. Sounds and the Fury
Let’s take a moment to discuss the layout of a good movie. It starts with the Exposition, then the Building Action, which is followed by the Climax, and then wound up with the Denouement. Sounds are the artistic glue that holds all of these elements together.

  • Exposition: (1 minute) Self-introduction and reading all of the information off of the title slide. {sounds: your own quavering voice}
  • Building Action: (30 seconds) Pregnant silence as you fiddle with the mouse and try to figure out how to get rid of the pop-up right-click menu you just brought up. Add an additional 30 seconds if you advance two slides forward by accident and have to restart the whole show to get back to slide 2. {sounds: your own nervous laughter, scribbling on paper as people start writing notes to each other, your own voice saying “it’s never done this before”}
  • Climax: (45 minutes) Ah, the 45 minute climax. Slides #2 through the next to last slide. Here lies the majority of your MSPP sounds. {sounds: ‘drumroll’ at the beginning of slide #2, ‘whoosh’ anytime a word flies onto the screen, ‘laser’ for any and all bulleted text, ‘cash register’ whenever insurance or worker’s compensation is mentioned ,‘typewriter’ on the bibliography page, etc}
  • Denouement: (1 minute) The last slide, if not a picture of a Caribbean island beach, should say “Thank You” and have the applause sound. Failing to do this is like having a slide that says “I verily do NOT thank you” with the sound of a high-pitched baby scream. {sounds: ‘applause’, or ‘high-pitched baby scream’}

Once you get enough experience you can start adding your own sounds like ‘rusty can opener’ or ‘ovulation’… you’ll know when those sounds are appropriate.

Stay tuned for the exciting conclusion before your own Friday conference!


Blogger DocAMAZING said...

I'm curious as to how many Google hits I will get with the phrase "45 minute climax".

10:11 PM, August 21, 2005

Anonymous Diddy said...

After reading the "45 minute climax" paragraph, I had to go take a cold shower.

Thanks for the MSPP tips. I'll be sure to use them in class today. I can see, now, where I've been going wrong. My background graphics are way too boring for high school kids. Time to spice things up a bit so I can enhance learning and retention.

6:15 AM, August 22, 2005


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