Being involved in education, I have had to sit through my share of in-services. Ask any teacher out there about in-service, and you will probably get a moaning sound as they expound about how most of them are not very well done.
This morning I had an opportunity to sit in on two different sessions as part of an in-service and saw two distinctly different presentations -- one done with the typical flaws that go with using PowerPoint and one that was the best presentation that I have seen at any in-service that I have been to.
The first speaker did an okay job: he was informative and is generally a good speaker. Unfortunately, he made a lot of key mistakes that a lot of people make with their presentations. First off, his slides had far too many words and bullet points in them and his handout, which he had given to everyone to read while they were suppose to be listening to his speech, was just a printout of the slides with the lines opposite them to write some notes. He also focused on the slides almost the entire time while speaking. Again, the speech was very informative and I got a lot out of it. Unfortunately, this was despite the poor use of PowerPoint.
The second speaker did a fantastic job with his presentation. His slides had a consistent theme when it came to his images. He was using a bridge to represent what he was talking about and it was the perfect metaphor for his speech. He didn't have handouts that people were reading while he was talking and he generally did not look at the screen and have his back to the audience during his speech. It was by far the best presentation given at an in-service that I have been to. Unfortunately, he did not have any handouts after the speech, which I would have really liked to have.
The lesson here is simple: you can give a great presentation regardless of your profession. You only have to take a few tips that a lot of us have been preaching and put them into practice: don't put too much info on your slides; don't talk to the screen; don't print off the outlines of your presentation to hand out because people will read ahead of your speech. Just doing those three things alone will improve your presentations. Hopefully, school districts will realize that their in-services can be a much bigger success if the presenters are given some tips on how to present their ideas and can make the in-services much more agreeable to their teachers.