Guest post by Carey Hilgartner
Open Learning has arrived. Thomas Friedman’s New York Times article, The Professors’ Big Stage, highlights how education has flipped – a change driven by the students. He cites the example of the Justice professor delivering his course on the MIT-Harvard edX online learning platform. He explains that the open access to quality education has made him a celebrity in China and South Korea. The course has filled a need. Adults chose to access the course as part of a real need. Open learning, whether part of a MOOC or other delivery allows adults to choose the learning they need.
Where have all the students gone?
He talks about the flipped classroom at San Jose state offering MIT course materials to students outside of the classroom and access to the teacher for questions and problem solving inside the class. Results improved significantly. Students were more engaged because they were given choices. They were given access to quality materials. They were respected as learners with more meaningful classroom interaction, focused on questions and problem-solving, activities done well in the classroom and not in the instructional video.
At Bow Valley College, the Anytime Online program has structured its content, tools and processes around open learning to reach and engage students at a distance. The program uses Google Apps for Education as its central tool for staff and students. Instructors and students converse with gmail. Assignments delivered with Google Drive and many completed in Google Docs. The courses exist in Google Sites and are open to the public. Students can sign in and see the assignments, can write the tests, contact the instructor, and receive feedback. That interaction with the instructor is what they pay for. That instruction is what we focus on in our open learning approach.
MOOCs have arrived
As part of this move to open learning, the program has placed and emphasis on the creation of quality instructional media. The program has developed PowerPoint presentations and used Camtasia Studio to convert these presentations to instructional videos for distribution on the program’s YouTube channel. To make this happen, the program has solicited the expertise of RexiMedia to ensure that the media is both engaging and meaningful. Carmen Simon, from RexiMedia, visited the program to provide direct coaching to the faculty on effective presentation skills. With new competence and revised confidence, faculty have been able to collaborate and efficiently create instructional presentations and videos for use by students. Students have come to expect media as the central part of their online courses. They can pause, rewind and replay the video on their own time and at their own pace. They are thus engaged. Participation in other course activities and completion increases as a spillover of this engagement.
Colleges, universities and technical institutes need to follow the examples quickly. The “tipping point” has arrived for open learning. Further delay will mean loss of enrollment and relevance in the post-secondary education world.
Centre for Excellence in Foundational LearningBow Valley College
During 2012, Dr. Carmen Simon carried out a major research study on memory – specifically, on how many slides people actually remember from a typical PowerPoint presentation. The study was based on significant changes in information processing and delivery that have taken place in the past decade:
- An exponential increase in the amount of information delivered, and the time spent consuming it
- A sense of being overwhelmed by the quantity of information available, while still craving more
- The ubiquitous use of PowerPoint, or PowerPoint styles (landscape slides, templates, bullet points) to deliver information
- Presentations that all look the same, making it very difficult for messages to stand out.
Over 1,500 participants were invited to view a short, online PowerPoint presentation of 20 slides. Participants were randomly assigned to one of the 26 conditions, which included different versions of the presentation. After 48 hours, they were asked to recall anything they could remember about the presentation. There were several key findings
- Participants remembered on average 4 slides out of the 20.
- Neutral images helped recall when compared with text only, but not to any great extent.
- Participants remembered content according to a pattern, not just random slides.
- Significant changes every fifth slide tended to aid recall.
What does this tell us? How can we use this information to improve our presentations? Carmen suggests that there a number of important clues.
The Magic Number Four – studies suggest that people can only hold about 4 or five items at a time in short term memory. The important thing is therefore to make sure that we point them at the right things to remember.
People remember the unusual. If everything in a presentation is equally intense (colour, graphics, in your face), or equally bland (text, indentations and bullet points), we have no control over what, if anything, people will remember.
Concrete visual language aids recall – the most remembered slides in the study were those about what colors to wear or not to wear when presenting online (don’t wear red, don’t wear black, white or stripes, but pastel colors are good). In these cases, pictures might help, but most people can picture the text anyway without much help.
Color co-ordinate your slides
Grouping your slides, "chunk" your presentation. Sometimes this can be done by the colour of the text or the background, or maybe by the use of a different set of images. Well thought out connections between different parts of a presentation are more important than just pushing more content.
People crave novelty - if you want a presentation to attract attention, find out what your audience would consider to be novel. People are more likely to remember what they find new and surprising, rather than what they find familiar. Where information differs from what we would expect, we sit up and take notice.
Repetition aids recall
Repetition and alliteration helps. The most memorable slides in the research all used the word “wear”. Using the same word, or finding three or four words that begin with the same letter to stress your key points will probably make the ideas stick in the mind.
People remember negative advice (what not to wear) better than neutral or positive content. However, at the same time, it played on their vanity – do this, or don’t do this in order to “look good”. Another frequently remembered slide suggested presenters should not lean back in their chairs as it made them appear short and fat. In a society that craves positive images, ego enhancing content attracts extra attention, and aids recall.
You can read a more detailed summary of Carmen’s research findings on Poll Everywhere –
Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3.
You can also download a fully referenced paper on the research.
Want to learn more? Sign up now for an exclusive online seminar, What is Your 5th Element? on Tuesday 26 March.
There are many ways to implement engagement in a virtual session, but there is one way to ensure it: you must have participants' attention first.
Psychologically speaking, there are various types of attention. Here are 2 types we can consider because they dictate the type of enagement we deliver.
1. Experiential attention.
You know this type of attention if you’re involved in a project you’re particularly fond of, or if you play a musical instrument, or hear a piece of music that touches you – this is involuntary attention. Some people like Van Gogh or Virginal Wolf were entirely immersed in what they were doing; for them an event would be a state of rapture. Some people have experiential attention each time they hear a bubbling brook, or see a sunset: it is an almost mystical moment. But realistically, how often does that happen at work or more so, how often does that happen in a virtual session?
Engaged in rapt contemplation
Obviously, you would not want this type of experiential attention in the workplace all the time: it would be dangerous if an airline pilot suddenly engaged in rapt contemplation of the starry skies. Or some of your employees become completely fascinated by the aesthetics in your PowerPoint and did not focus on your message.
However, every so often, it is important to consider that it is possible and beneficial to use a virtual platform to provide an experience versus merely catering to just a goal–oriented, task-focused meeting.
2. Instrumental attention
Some people are very pragmatic, turned on by goals and checklists and agendas. They don’t get carried away by feelings, thoughts, or sensory stimulation. Their attention is very instrumental. You've wittnessed this type of attention when a presenter started with: "Let's get right to it: the objective for this meeting is..."
Which attention type is more important to attract in order to generate virtual engagement? Consider including a mixture of both, in different percentages, depending on what you wish to achieve during your sessions. A combination is possible.
Mozart traveled to Leipzig once and heard Bach perform for the first time. He immediately asked “What’s this?” and then became totally immersed in the sounds. After a while, he exclaimed: “this is a person a fellow can learn from”. Mozart listened to the music both experientially and instrumentally because after this moment, even though he got lost in the sound, he could produce what he heard note by note from beginning to end.
How does this relate to virtual sessions? Consider the contrasting list below:
Experiential virtual session
- Asking Qs is essential
- Chat box, polls
- Longer session
Instrumental virtual session
- PowerPoint is essential
- Scripted, linear
- Less flash
- Shorter session
When you’re after the experience, you ask questions because questions are more important than the answers, and the process of asking is more important – these are brainstorming, highly collaborative sessions, more fluid, with no strict sequence or agenda. This is when PowerPoint is not important. You take advantage of the chat box, polling questions – the interactivity level is high and because of this, the sessions can be longer.
By contrast, if you have an instrumental, pragmatic purpose, the answers are more important, PowerPoint is more important, you’re likely more scripted, rehearsed, formal, and linear. There is less glitz and flash to what you show and say and do. And because of this, consider making sessions shorter!
Appealing to both attention types impacts memory
What I am noticing in many virtual presentations is that many presenters err on the side of calling for too much instrumental attention, and not enough for the experiential type. Attendees will grant us attention for pragmatic goals but that type of attention does not always convert to long-term memory. Experiential attention influences feelings and because of the emotion involved, long-term memory is impacted more. This means that hours or weeks after your session, viewers may not remember much of what we said (when we instrumentally appealed to their attention), but they will remember how we made them feel (when we experientally appealed to their attention). If the latter is missing, the result may be: an entirely forgettable presentation.
At a time of unprecedented technology development and information distribution, it is becoming increasingly difficult for any presenter to deliver information in such a way that an audience easily processes it and remembers it. Every time we ask an audience what they remember from a presentation they viewed weeks ago, we see blank stares. Ironically, some people remember bits and pieces from what they saw years ago, but not weeks ago.
For the past five years, Carmen Simon has been researching techniques to make presentations memorable, and will shortly be sharing her research findings. Meanwhile, what do you still remember from a presentation you've viewed a few weeks ago? Why do you think it's still in your mind? We'd love to hear from you.
There seems to be no end to the metaphorical use of chess in describing business, politics,
life, in fact - just about anything. Comparing the success in virtual education with winning in chess is very tempting. However, things happen differently in real life compared to the chess board. Wouldn’t it be great if in the virtual space, we only competed with two players,
operated within a pre-deﬁned space of only 64 squares, played by a few rules in complete
transparency, and each time we lost, we got the chance to start from scratch?
Virtual education . . .
The real life in the virtual education space is quite different. We operate in a complex
environment, in ﬁelds that are loosely deﬁned, where players often create rules of their own, handling pieces that come in all colors and forms. Wining in such a context is difﬁcult, especially when there are struggles with things like
- Converting face-to-face materials into virtual offerings without regard of educational
- principles or accumulation of proper skills.
- Not investing in the quality of virtual offerings
- Thinking in words, instead of ideas and images
- Not knowing how to prevent multitasking and how to increase the rate of engagement
At Rexi Media, we've researched the most effective and empirically-driven techniques for creating the type of online education that leads to two important metrics in real life: outstanding student performance and overall retention. The Rexi Media Virtual Presentation Curriculum gives you a daring and real advantage to make a difference in the virtual education space.
. . . how many moves ahead are you?
We can help you with the challenge of virtual presentations - the illusion of attention, the illusion of memory and the illusion of knowledge that they convey.
You'll learn about the psychology of annoying presentations - how some of the most positive traits of a virtual presentation can become annoying over time, and how to avoid the three cardinal sins of annoying virtual presentations
We'll teach you best practices for converting materials from face-to-face into the virtual world - how to structure a virtual presentation to attract and sustain attention, how to balance simplicity and complexity and how to use words with a higher attention-grabbing and persuasive power
Learn why visuals are more memorable than text and auditory information, the four visual areas that are mandatory for any virtual presentation, and why authentic visuals get you more attention. We'll help you to include creative graphics even if you’re not a designer
Virtual Presentation Training from Rexi Media will connect you with your invisible audience, and prevent your virtual students from multitasking by using the technology effectively to increase engagement.
There's more about our Virtual Presentation Training offererings in the attached leaflet. Why not contact Rexi Media today for more information?
Rexi Media chose the recent Sales 2.0 Conference in San Franciscio to announce its Certified Virtual Presenter Program. Carmen Taran gave a presentation, "Virtual Presentations Can Make or Break You", which was very well attended, and the Rexi Media booth attracted lots of visitors. Participants tweeted, "@carmentaran was awesome", “After their #s20c #presentation today, I think @RexiMedia might have the answer”, “Great tips from Dr Taran of Rexi Media on polishing your virtual presentation skills”, and “Great session by @RexiMedia”.
Rexi Media Virtual Presenter Certification
Paul Clothier of Rexi Media, who is working on Rexi Media’s Certified Virtual Presenter Program talks about the conference.
"As I walked around and talked to attendees and speakers about virtual presentations I asked the question, "Have you ever attended a boring webinar?" The response was typically "Of course - aren't they all" - as if it was somehow predetermined that webinars were dull, uninteresting and an opportunity to multitask. This is similar to the reaction many people have with PowerPoint presentations where they blame the tool for poor presentation experiences. It was great opportunity to engage people in a conversation how webinars could be different – how to create webinars that really engage interest and grab attention.
One thing was evident as I talked with people - that most knew very little about winning techniques that can be used to get participation online. Some used the occasional polling question, but very few people took full advantage of the chat box, whiteboards, collaborative note taking or interactive simulations. The reasons given were usually that they didn't understand how to use all the features of the tool or that they didn't have (or make) time to really plan their sessions beforehand. Time often seems to be a factor (or and excuse) in why people give boring webinars.
Sales 2.0, San Francisco, 2012
What surprised me was the number of people I talked to who admitted that not only did they attend boring webinars but that their company's own webinars and virtual presentations were poor. However, to create engaging, memorable and persuasive virtual sessions takes a bit of training - not just in how to use the software, but in how to make a presentation come alive.
We often think of a virtual presentation as being a less effective than a face to face session. I had a conversation with one of our Rexi Media partners who deliver sales training who confirmed that their virtual sales training was actually more effective than when they provided in-person training.
Sales 2.0, San Francisco, 2012
They replaced a full day in-person sales training with a one hour virtual training session once a week for one month. The participants had homework where they were required to practice what they had learned when they were on the phone to prospects. They discovered that four short sessions with on-the-job assignments were much more effective than eight hours of face to face training. Spaced learning online plus targeted application can be extremely effective - not to mention the huge savings over the costs of face-to-face training."
Rexi Media's Certified Virtual Presenter courses are available now. There are three levels - Silver, Gold and Platinum. Register with Rexi Media for more details and learn how to deliver winning virtual presentations.
Comparing the keynote speakers at the recent Presentation Summit in her blog, Olivia Mitchell wrote, “Words such as sparkling and scintillating were created to describe speakers like Carmen Taran. Everybody I spoke to loved her as a speaker.” Everyone also remembered what she was wearing, and several of the most impactful and striking slides – but as for what Carmen had said, Olivia found, as with other keynote speakers that everyone remembered something different. However, that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
Geetesh Bajaj also covered Carmen’s presentation in his blog. This is a summary of some of what they learned.
It's important to be clear about what you want your audiences to remember, because they can only act on what they recollect.
If you cover many points of equal importance and all at the same hierarchical level, your audience will have difficulty remembering them all. "Pay attention to everything - everything is important" is not a very clear message.
If you don’t present a clear overarching message, your audience will choose their own message – which may not be what you want to happen.
Your message, your slides and your delivery need to be balanced - you don’t want your presentation to be like a movie where people only remember the special effects.
When you use a powerful metaphor as your theme, be aware of any baggage your metaphor may carry for some in the audience.
Emotions can be both positive and negative. Generally, pictures and words associated with positive emotions are appropriate – but sometimes, invoking negative emotions in a presentation will lead to more detailed recollection.
Audiences often remember the opening or closing slides in a presentation the most - and they always remember something that is out of the ordinary.
A long self-introduction by the speaker, giving out handouts or really boring opening slides are the best way to kill a presentation
Unusual questions make great presentation titles.
Include a memorable message and image at the end and you increase the longevity of your audience's remembrance.
Repetition does not lead to memory - but people do remember something that is not a cliché, or is unusual and different.
Audiences also remember dramatic shifts - aim for occasional sharp contrasts between slides.
The more bizarre the images you use (within reason!), the more likely people are to remember them.
The familiar in unfamilar circumstances
Even though you want bizarreness, the images you use must be original and familiar. This is important to the brain since original and familiar stuff gets encoded easily within the brain. It also has a quicker retrieval rate. The artist Rene Magritte wrote, "to be a surrealist ... means barring from your mind all remembrance of what you have seen, and being always on the lookout for what has never been."
And finally, you don’t have a second chance to make a good first impression – but you usually have plenty of opportunity to correct a first impression. A bad start isn’t necessarily the end of the world !
Have you ever attended a business presentation where the presenter mesmerized you so much that you wanted to beat your chest and go out and do wonderful things afterwards? That presenter most likely learned from the practical techniques included in Presenter Pro for the iPad.
Presenter Pro for iPad.
Since its launch in 2009, thousands of iPhone users have downloaded Rexi Media's Presenter Pro App. Now, it's been joined by an iPad version. Developed in conjunction with Soap (State of the Art Presentations), Presenter Pro for the iPad is not just a resized version of the iPhone app but an an entirely new and exciting product in its own right!
Presenter Pro for the iPad was created because of one reality: good presentations are stimulating presentations. They radiate. They breathe. They inspire. And they last. Imagine being able to produce and deliver earth-shattering presentations that endure and enable others to act. Whether you’re a corporate executive, manager, sales executive, trainer, or lawyer, this advanced presentation skills application will help you present ideas powerfully and persuasively.
Presenter Pro for the iPad is not only cognitively engaging but aesthetically pleasing. The app is packed with hundreds of beautiful, high-resolution graphics; it may take a few minutes to download, but the wait is worthwhile.
The basic app is free. For a small fee you can upgrade to the full version of Presenter Pro right within the app. This will give you access to 75% more content!
To upgrade to the paid version of Presenter Pro, access any of the three sections in the app, and then tap any sub-menu item on the extreme right hand side.
Presenter Pro features:
- Advanced presentation skills techniques, amplified by beautiful and practical examples.
- Ability to Email any of the content and examples to your friends and colleagues.
- Free sample template.
- Elegant, easy to use interface
- Direct access to Rexi Media for additional presentation skills coaching and PPT design guidelines.
Rexi Media uses research-based principles from psychology, sociology, advertising and adult education in all its presentation design and coaching work. Thousands of people have attended Rexi Media's virtual and face-to-face workshops, and the results are visible every day in their improved marketing, motivating, training and selling techniques. Download Presenter Pro for the iPad today to begin Rexifying your presentations.
For the past few months, Rexi Media has been working with Waltham, MA based BrainShark, delivering highly acclaimed roadshow seminars in Dallas, Houston, Seattle, and Toronto. Earlier this month, Irwin Hipsman of Brainshark blogged about local Governor and prospective Presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s use of PowerPoint. Irwin wrote, "Politics and opinions aside, we are intrigued by his candidacy because Governor Romney is one of few public officials who goes beyond the teleprompter and takes the risk of incorporating PowerPoint into his speeches."
However, we thought it could be done better - and so at Brainshark's invitation, we've reworked a couple of his slides. Take a look and ask yourself which you find more impactful.
The short clip above shows a couple of the slides from the original presentation together with our alternative version. Best to view the presentation full screen and pause on each slide.
The original slides are full of text, with small images on a white background. There's far to much to read, and the images don't stand out.
Our alternative has far less text, larger, more memorable images, and a stronger, white on black border top and bottom. Whether you agree with the message or not, we think it stands out more clearly. And perhaps more importantly, it's designed to accompany a presentation - it needs a speaker to explain things, and provide a bit more context.
Never put everything on your slides - there's far to much for the audience to read, and they can't read and listen to you at the same time.
"Researchers in neuroscience, economics, and business administration all agree", says Carmen Taran, "that the number one factor for future business success is getting noticed by your prospective customers. At Rexi Media, we're excited about our new series of on-demand training modules that will teach you new ways of presenting so that you capture an audience’s attention and sustain it. Attention is the starting point for moving others into action."
The new modules can be accessed through an internet browser or an LMS. The Standard Package contans eight modules, each of which lasts about 15 minutes.
Fundamentals of a Modern Presentation introduces new perspectives on how to structure a presentation to capture attention immediately, sustain it, and leave even skeptical or distracted audience members with a persuasive take-away.
Many presenters who are excellent face-to-face, approach virtual presentations with the attitude of, 'how hard can it be?' Virtual presentations require a new set of skills and habits. Use Dynamic Online Presentations to learn what they are.
Visuals as a Persuasive Partner covers four modules. Learn how to visualize facts, processes, data, and abstracts so that your audience processes information faster, stays focused on your presentation instead of their mobile devices and best of all, retains your content.
Information overload, multi-tasking, too much hoice, and short-attention spans are just a few of the symptoms of our listeners today. How to Present to the Easily Distracted and the Overwhelmed helps you learn how to best present information to the overly-activated or exhausted.
Lastly, Advanced Presenters Are Different
identifies characteristics of the best presenters, some of which may surprise you. This module will help you evaluate your own performance, determine if you have these traits and learn how to cultivate them.
If you want more, there’s a Premium Package which includes a number of extra modules. Why Some Presenters Win and Others Fail helps you to recognise personal factors affecting the success of your presentations, and learn when to tame or unleash them
In business presentations, what you say matters just as much as how you say it. In Persuasive Messaging, you will learn the specific words that have more power, or more voltage to move others into action.
How Your Relationship with Time Can Impact Your Presentation introduces a new approach to helping you deliver presentations that are more fulfilling to you and a gift to your audience. And Use Storytelling to Communicate with Impact offers practical suggestions on how to convert business content into engaging stories and relate them with optimal visual and body language, captivating voice and personal style.
The techniques included in the training packages are drawn from empirical evidence in various fields, such as psychology, marketing, advertising, computer interface design, sociology, and adult motivation. Modules can be purchased on an enterprise license model or pay per user.
Modules do not require an internet connection - if necessary, they can be made available directly on viewers' desktops. Quiz modules can be incorporated to assess learning or gather reactions to the training package. The training packages are accompanied by a checklist that viewers can download and use to monitor their progress.
Finally, Danielle Daly of Rexi Media adds, "Impeccable presentation skills bring personal and social benefits, and most cricially, increased revenue."
For more details, download the latest brochure and contact Rexi Media.