Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.

I recently attended DigiCon18. I was left with a few thoughts on the nature of presentations. I discussed this before, as well as the re-imagination of such spaces. I find this topic important to continually come back to as much as a reminder about what I myself need to improve upon as anything else.

  • Slow Down: I was in some sessions where presenters would run through all their material. I feel this is something that I sometimes do. One strategy is to provide points where you can stop and reassess.
  • Incorporate Storytelling: One of the things that stood out from all the keynotes was the power of storytelling. I was left thinking that if you do not have a story to tell, you probably need to start making one up.
  • Involve Humour: On the flip side to storytelling, it is important to include humour, this opens presentations and workshops to the human side. One of the hard things about this is that humour is often situational and cannot always easily be contrived.
  • Don’t say what doesn’t need to be said: If you are not prepared or do not know everything, do not admit it. I recognise that everyone is human, but more is lost than gained in my opinion.
  • Structured Hands-On Time: There were too many sessions that involved arbitrary activities. If you are going to provide people time, provide them with purpose and structure. This is something that I have been guilty of not doing well in the paste.

With all this said, I think that it is people that make a conference. Maybe above all else we need to start there.

If you were one of those people at DigiCon18 and had a reflection, I would love to hear it.

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Thoughts on Presentations and Professional Development by Aaron Davis is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

11 thoughts on “Thoughts on Presentations and Professional Development

  1. Thanks, Aaron.
    As one who has experienced the ups and downs of presenting at conferences and PD events for many years, I have learned the following:
    1. Create redundancy, technology will fail at the worst possible time.
    2. Keep slides simple, low text volume, non-distracting – don’t read directly from the slides (I’m not sure why, but I find this personally disturbing when the presenter is reading the same words I can see on the slide.)
    3. It’s better to have good questions rather than all of the answers. Learn peoples’ names, and use them. Personalize the conversations.
    4. Provide avenues for the conversation and the learning to extend beyond the session – invite learning relationships and social interaction.
    5. Model the learning vibe you aspire to create in the classroom, don’t have attendees sit in rows as you discuss the virtues of “maker spaces”.
    6. Solicit feedback from participants – spend time reflecting on the shared perceptions of your session – keys to improvement.
    I am nodding in agreement at your list – human first, presenter second! I have seen many terrific presenters, as well as, some who I found to be overrated. Good or bad, I try to take a stylistic approach from each session I attend.

  2. You would be a valuable participant at any professional learning session. This is valid feedback. When presenters relax, are well organized and have a deep knowledge of their subject it’s much easier to learn. The same practices can be applied to the classroom. Our kids love a few narratives thrown in with the explicit targeting of skillls with hands on learning activities


  • Anne van der Graaf


  • Anne van der Graaf

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