In his blog post “Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic,” Garr Reynolds highlights differences between the presentation styles of technology gurus Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Reynolds includes the following quotation to support his ideal of simplicity in presentation style from Dr. Koichi Kawana:

Simplicity means the achievement of maximum effect with minimum means.

In large part because of my continued reading of Daniel Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind: Moving from the Information Age to the Conceptual Age,” I am finding increased interest in issues of design. Along similar lines, I hope to read John Dewey’s book “Art as Experience” in 2006. Reynolds is very partial to Steve’s more simplistic and Zen-friendly presentation style than Bill’s text-intensive mode. Issues of simplicity and restraint are emphasized by Reynolds. I admit I agree with him.

Two resources I am also hoping to read in the upcoming year relating to presentation impact are Cliff Atkinson’s “Beyond Bullet Points: Using Microsoft PowerPoint to Create Presentations That Inform, Motivate, and Inspire” and Lynell Burmark’s “Visual Literacy: Learn to See, See to Learn.” I heard Lynn speak at TCEA last year and her presentation was excellent.

Another presenter I have heard that at times models both the simplicity and power of using visual images is Ian Jukes. Operationalizing the idea that a picture can be worth a thousand words, Jukes sometimes uses rich images devoid of text to provide a backdrop for a point he is making. Simple but effective.

In helping your own students use PowerPoint or another presentation tool effectively, I would encourage you to share these ideas with them. Have them view at least part of Lawrence Lessig’s presentation on “Free Culture.” We need to teach students that using presentation methods and formats which are out of the box and non-standard can not only make our message stand out, it can also enhance the audience’s comprehension and retention of our ideas. And isn’t that what communication is all about?

Toward that end, Flickr’s Creative Commons search pages are great resources to utilize when searching for “tagged photos” that may be used to enhance a presentation point you want to make.

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