Tag Archives: tedx

Presentation Styles – Weeknote #17 – 28th June 2019


It was another Monday and another day travelling to London. I was interviewing a candidate for a job. Preparation and post-processing (?) always takes longer than you think it will.

On Tuesday I spent some time preparing for the a knowledge call on presentation skills that I am leading on.

These two blog posts were very influential on my presentation style

Gates, Jobs, & the Zen aesthetic

Learning from Bill Gates & Steve Jobs

Back in 2010 I was invited to deliver a 15 minute keynote, which was then shortened to 12 minutes as other presenters had over run. I always think it’s just selfish of other presenters to run over their time slot, it’s unfair to the other presenters and the audience. A good chair will ensure that this doesn’t happen, and should cut presentations short if needed.

I always plan for the time allocated so I don’t run over. Now the accepted model for powerpoint presentations is 2-5 minutes per slide, so if I was presenting according to the accepted model I would have had no more than six slides.

So how many slides did you have?

I used ninety six slides.

Did you really?

Yes I did.

96 slides in 12 minutes – Presentation Styles

I am also going to use this link about a presentation on presentations at a recent Jisc TEDx event A duck goes quack…

Some final thoughts on presentations

  • When presenting read your slides out.
  • Make sure you fill with slides with as much text as possible, just so you can ask people at the back can they read them.
  • Ensure graphs and diagrams are taken from a document so that the details are unreadable even from the front row.
  • Cover your presentation with organisational branding, so that everyone knows where you are from and can be distracted from the actual content.


  • Seriously do think about your presentation. Think of the session as a story.
  • Don’t read your slides out, use the slides to inform and talk to the audience about the stuff you did or are doing. The slides should inform this not be all the talk written down. Despite everyone saying don’t read your slides, people still do it.
  • Less is more, sometimes more is better. So don’t cover your slides in lots of text. One slide with six bullet points has less impact then six slides with a single piece of information. Use less words (or even just a single word) and expand this when you present.
    Images can be very powerful and can replace words.
  • Don’t use clipart though, go somewhere like Pixabay or Unsplash and find some decent photographic images.
  • When using graphs and diagrams, don’t just copy them from your report or Excel spreadsheet, simplify them. Do they add to the story you are telling?

Wednesday I was in the Bristol office. It was nice to meet people, as I haven’t been in the Bristol office for a while now.

Thursday I was back in London for the Jisc Horizons meeting on assessment. The aim of the meeting is to explore the future of assessment in universities and colleges and how technology could be used to help address some of the problems or opportunities we face. My main role for the day is to act as a scribe noting down the comments and ideas from the participants.

It was an exhausting day, but I do feel that we delved deep into the assessment space and identifying some of the challenges and problems universities and colleges face. We also identified some of the opportunities that are out there as well. What can Jisc do in this space, well we’ll discover that later this year.

I also wrote a blog post reminiscing about the Jisc Pedagogy Experts meeting I had attended back in 2007, twelve years ago.

On Friday I was back to the Bristol office, twice in a week. I had various back to back meetings.

In the afternoon we had the knowledge call on presentation skills. Though attendance was low the format appeared to work well. I used a tweetchat format, but used Teams as the platform.

My top tweet this week was this one.

Define Success

Going around the Twitter a week or so back was a video from TEDx London from Goldie about despite dropping out of the school system he has made a success of his life. Given the choice again, he would drop out of school again!

It reminds me of some (most) of the presentations from Handheld Learning 2009 in which Malcolm McLaren, Zenna Atkins and Yvonne Roberts.

Back then I wrote about how they all felt they were failed by the formal education system, but had made a success of their lives.

…next was Zenna Atkins… She felt she had been failed by the formal education system and despite this had a made a success of her life. She recounted tales about her children and their experiences in the education system. I am sure she knows more about the UK education system then someone like me, but you have to ask this question, if the education system is so wrong in the UK, despite the best efforts of organisations like Ofsted which are there to check the quality of the education system, then maybe we need to rethink the whole education system and the quality checking that takes place. I did feel that alienating your audience who are generally all from the formal education system and indicating that they are the problem was an interesting way to present the issues.

With Malcolm McLaren up next… He was also failed by the formal education system but found success, notice a pattern here?

Yvonne Roberts was the third keynote and having alienated the audience with a throwaway remark about dyslexia once more recounted how the formal education system had failed her and here she was speaking as a keynote presenter.

All of these speakers talked about how the formal education system was rubbish and needed a revolution. The pattern behind all their talks was that the school system had failed them and despite that they had made a success of their lives.

What annoys me about giving these people a platform is that it sends completely the wrong message to young people.

“Drop out of school and you will be successful!”

We never hear from those thousands of people who dropped out and didn’t have success in the same way they did. Those thousands who for whom school failed them and they feel they have failed.

Let’s remember that there are many more people that didn’t drop out of school and have led happy successful lives.

I think a key question is how do we define success?

Do we measure success by how many column inches you have in the Daily Mail?

Is success measured by economic success, how much money we have earned? Wealth?

Is success measured by popularity? By the number of Twitter followers you have? How much you are liked on Facebook? How many hit singles you’ve had?

Is success measured by how high you get in an organisation? Are you a Chief Executive? Are you a senior manager?

Is success measured by some weird happiness index that takes into account multiple factors? Do you need to be successful to be happy?

There are issues and problems with the formal education system, however those issues are institutional, cultural, societal and governmental. Changes need to be made at all levels, in government, in government departments, officiating quangos such as Ofsted, examining boards, local authorities, funding bodies as well as schools and colleges.

When an individual is successful despite failing at school, in some ways yes we should celebrate this, but we must also question why they failed within the formal system. Likewise we mustn’t forget those for whom not only did the school system fail, but have not had happy successful lives.

However we mustn’t forget those for whom the school system did work and who have also led successful lives. Let’s also celebrate when it works, but not be complacent when it doesn’t.