No powerpoint allowed

4 Dec
2014-11-06 14.44.10

One of the students in my class (Arturo Altamirano) as he is giving a talk about Influenza virus. The drawings on the whiteboard were a very helpful for understanding his presentation.

One of the things I did in my seminar this semester was to prohibit the use of Powerpoint or any other presentation software. For their talks, the students had to use the whiteboard or handouts or anything that didn’t require a projector. Most of them used the whiteboard. Initially some of them didn’t like it much. But every student had to give three short presentations during the semester and so they had a chance to improve their whiteboard skills during the semester.

Focus on the story

I asked them not to use Powerpoint because I wanted to make sure that they did not spend a lot of time preparing beautiful slides. Instead, I wanted them to you to focus on the story of their presentation and the connection with their audience. I’m happy that I made this decision because the presentations that students did were really nice and I think they wouldn’t have been as good if I had allowed Powerpoint. All of the students improved their presentation skills during the semester and as the semester progressed, it got more more fun to listen to their talks.

Whiteboard exercises

One thing I will do differently next time is that I will start the semester with some exercises to become familiar with using the whiteboard. I am thinking about asking each student in the first class to introduce themselves using the whiteboard. For example, they could draw (very roughly) the geographic location of the cities or neighborhoods in which they have lived. The exercise would be to combine drawing on the whiteboard and talking to an audience. And hopefully, such an exercise would take away some of the fear they may have about talking without slides.

The picture I attach to this blog is of one of the students in the class (Arturo Altamirano) as he is giving a talk about Influenza virus. The drawings on the whiteboard were a very helpful for understanding his presentation.

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2 Responses to “No powerpoint allowed”

  1. Henry Cerda December 7, 2014 at 9:36 am #

    Hello!
    I am Henry Cerda; let me tell you about an event that happened probably 6 years ago. I do not remember the place, the year, but ibfo remember the purpose of the event and the point on this story. It was a group of foreign students, in fact the were mexican; the competition was to build a under-water drone, of which they won with a very scarce budget. When they did their presentation of there model drone, they used a blackboard, or whiteboard; cant remember this detail; but when asked why they did not have a PowerPoint presentation; one of the students answered: “If we had a PowerPoint presentation; we wouldn’t have nothing to say”.

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  1. 15 papers on contemporary evolution in human viruses | Being A Better Scientist - June 1, 2015

    […] posted about this seminar previously here (about the seminar format) and here (no powerpoint allowed), and here (about being nervous for a […]

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