The hardest part about being a teacher or a professor these days is trying to relate information to students. While your primary task may be to simply give them facts and figures, everyone knows that real knowledge is created when connections are made. Students can’t be expected to just memorize details from a book and suddenly know how they apply, nor will they ever have a true understanding of something if their only interaction with that subject is just copying down notes and then regurgitating them onto a paper for a test or an essay. The most important thing about presentations and lectures is engaging your audience so that they want to pay attention and understand.
Attention Spans must be Rethought
With young people today growing up in the age of technology, there is more than enough reason to believe that they like technology in their presentations. Many teachers jump to the conclusion that by simply utilizing presentation software their audience will instantly be impressed and entertained. The problem with this logic is that people can’t just put words and minor graphics onto a slideshow and expect that it will keep the attention span of young people. This is in no small part due to the fact that the current students in today’s society have the shortest attention spans that this world has ever seen.
If you are already on board with using presentation software, then you are on the right track. However, you need to make sure you are able to switch gears quickly, draw references from all areas of pop culture, and keep them guessing about what they will do next. In short, by having the ability to embed video in PowerPoint through presentation software like LiveSlides, you have a powerful tool at your disposal, which any student will love. By jumping in and out of references to real world examples, throwing in some humor, relating the message into pop culture, and then coming right back to stunning visuals—your audience won’t even realize they are learning. As terrible as it sounds, you can break through to students if they don’t feel like you are trying to teach them something.
Interaction is Key
The problem with many individuals is that they are all about interaction. Most individuals learn by interacting, and the major problem with this is that the current style of education has a strong emphasis on having a single teacher or professor stand in front of a class and lecture for a long period of time. How are students ever going to be able to take something away from a class that they don’t understand, by hearing words that are repetitive, using terminology that they’ve never heard, and associating it all with textbook examples and definitions? The simplicity of it all is that learning can be so much easier when there is actual relatable exchange of concepts and ideas.
By having a presentation you are basically attempting to tell the students the most important things about a subject. You are attempting to teach them why something is important, as well as why they should care. However, if you just give those words then they aren’t learning, and they might not even be listening. The best opportunity to create real knowledge is to follow the instructions of the American Psychology Association when it comes to teaching students and putting interaction ahead of all else. Involving students not only challenges them to think about things in new ways, but they are able to ask questions, make comments, and draw relations to things that will stick in their mind for long after the class, exam or other measurable has passed.
Creating Purpose with Your Lesson
Another major flaw that people make when it comes to teaching and learning is that they don’t understand the difference between presenting information and creating purpose. If you just list a bunch of facts then they may be interesting, powerful, and informative, but they are still just facts when it is all said and done.
When it comes to teaching, however, the point is to make purpose. As an Oregon State theory piece on education suggests, if you can make connections between what those facts are and how they fit into something more important, then your students get to see a bigger picture and understand how important it will be. A presentation cannot simply be you trying to tell them strings of facts and figures. You must create purpose.
Regardless of your message, it’s imperative to deliver it in the right way. A student or audience member of any presentation will surely learn more on their own from a subject that they find interesting than one that they don’t understand at all. Be sure to give them as much information as you can in as many ways as you can, however, if you don’t put it into context and let them understand exactly how it fits in you will never have them truly learning.