Professional Communication and Presentation Class Mini Discussion


This week, four amazing artists presented their Mini Discussion presentation.  Here was the prompt: Garr Reynolds says an ineffective slide is a slideument and Nancy Duarte says we should be creating “digital scenery” instead.  Explain the difference between an ineffective slide and an effective one based on these two slide design experts.  Use one outside source, and create an activity to help the class internalize your lesson.

As they were presenting, my students animated their speech using the whiteboard and a few markers.  After they finished, I asked them if I could take their pictures next to the pictures they’re drawn on the board.


Gerson (left) and Tuan (right) showed us the RIGHT way to design a slide relying on images, a little bit of relevant text, and strong principles of design.


Brian (left) and Roberto (right) explain what a slidument is and dissect an example of a “wall of text,” bad slide.

I am always so impressed when my students blend what they’re learning and studying (art and design) with what we learn in class.

What great things have your students been working on lately?

Professional Communication and Presentation Class Commandments


Today, a really strong team of students put together and presented a “Mini Discussion” about the TED Commandments, why these presentation rules are important, and how those rules apply to all presenters.

To conclude their presentation, the group asked us to think about our own class commandments for Professional Communication and Presentation.  Here are my favorite 5 of the 10:

Thou shalt respect the audience.

Thou shalt “get naked” with delivery.

Thou shalt interact.

Thou shalt not rely on PowerPoint slides.

Thou shalt always be prepared.

Some of the commandments we wrote on the board are our silly class inside jokes, but most of our tips are incredibly helpful for communicating and presenting effectively.

Here is the Mini Discussion team comprised of Fiifi, Kim, Emily, and Joe posting with the Class Commandments:


And here is the rest of my wonderful class courtesy of a panoramic photo I had no idea my phone was capable of capturing:

photo (1)

What great things have your students been up to lately?

Prezi’s Top 100 Presentation Resources


I am excited to announce that Creating Communication was named one of Prezi’s Top 100 Presentation Resources!  Check out their list: “The #PreziTop100 Online Resources Every Presenter Should See.”


Don’t forget to answer this week’s Wednesday Challenge with YOUR favorite online presentation resource!  You can also leave a comment here.

Commencement Speeches: Advice From The Experts


Graduation season is upon us which means my favorite kind of presentations is being delivered in high schools and colleges nationwide: the commencement speech.  In March of 2013, I compiled some expert advice on graduation speeches in this article.  Even further back in August 2012, I posted “5 Best Practices for Commencement Speeches” including my advice to prepare, know your audience, keep it short, avoid getting too emotional, and inspire in an unexpected way.

This graduation season, we have a whole host of commencement speech experts we can learn from.  In NPR’s “Anatomy of a Great Commencement Speech,” Cory Turner and the NPR Ed Team analyzed hundreds of speeches dating back to 1774 to come up with a few important rules: 1) Be Funny, 2) Make Fun of Yourself, 3) Downplay the Genre, and, most importantly, 4) You Must Have a Message (Source).  Read or listen to the article in its entirety here.



Decker Communications gives us “The Commencement Speech: How To Rock It” with three tips on effective content preparation.  Citing famous graduation speeches from Conan O’Brien, Bono, and Steve Jobs, Kelly Decker’s advice is spot on.  Check it out here.

Entertainment Weekly shares 2014’s best celebrity commencement speeches along with video of each presentation.  From Sandra Bullock to Charlie Day, you’re sure to learn presentations lessons from watching these actors and musicians delivering this year’s graduation ceremony speeches.

Along with celebrity star power, political figures are always big on the podium at graduation day.  “10 Things To Learn From This Year’s Best Graduation Speech” proclaims Admiral William McRaven as this year’s champion of commencement presentations.  The NAVY Seal who commanded Operation Neptune Spear (Google it) spoke at the University of Texas at Austin, and Inc. says we can learn a lot about life and happiness from the Admiral’s speech.  These ten life lessons are a must-read.  Check them out here.

What was your favorite commencement speech of 2014?  What public speaking advice did you glean from watching that graduation presentation?

11-Step Guide To Awesome Presentation Content


If you’re working on a presentation, check out SOAP’s 11-Step Guide to Awesome Presentation Content:


I love the focus on audience analysis, storytelling, and support for the core message.  I would have liked to see a focus on “why” before “how.”  As Simon Sinek’s golden circle tells us, our focus should be “why” first followed by “how” and “what.”  I would have also liked to see a focus on content as opposed to a transition into design… Design took up half of the presentation, which was disappointing.  Even so, there are great lessons to be learned here, and I hope you enjoyed the Slideshare deck.

What great Slideshare presentations have you flipped through this week?

Currently Reading: How To Deliver A TED Talk


Summertime in Florida means plenty of trips to the beach.  So far this summer, I’ve been to New Smyrna, Cocoa Beach, and Honeymoon Island in Dunedin.  All of this beaching for me means relaxing with a book.  I read Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (disappointing) and started reading the book my brother gave me called Kafka On The Shore by Haruki Murakami (amazing).  Mostly, though, I stick to nonfiction.

While beaching with my husband, I re-read Jeremey Donovan’s How To Deliver A TED Talk with a focus on the upcoming revamp of Professional Communication and Presentation.  I highlighted many places that link our current class (a presentation class using Nancy Duarte’s Resonate) with our future class (a self presentation class based on Pamela Slim’s Body Of Work).


Re-reading Donovan’s book with a focus on how to blend the old class with the new made me pick up on vastly different pages and excerpts than when I read it the first time.  For example, I want to explain that communicating your professional persona and being able to present yourself and your personal brand to others is a challenge in the era of social media and texting.  Donovan says, “Those who learn how to communicate offline will have a better chance of being heard and of making a difference in an ever-more crowded world” (Source).  This really struck a chord with me, and I began to see how the blend of old class and new class might make sense structurally.

Donovan’s Tip #1 in the book, “Everybody has an idea worth spreading” is key for the revamp of Professional Communication and Presentation because everyone must also be able to spread their professional persona and to make their personal brand into a story or an idea worth sharing.  His second tip on developing a “speaking persona” resonated with me because I think that in class, we can link a professional persona with a speaking persona.  Donovan gives a list of categories of speaking personas that I think any student can understand and connect with.  I have an idea for a revamp of our old TED Analysis Presentation assignment in asking students to figure out what their speaking persona will be and finding a TED Talk with a speaker whose persona is similar to their own.  This will help incorporate TED Talks into the class with a focus this time on professional and speaking personas.

I also liked Donovan’s section in Chapter 1’s “Organizing Your Talk” on story, so I think another presentation my students can focus on in the reboot of the class is developing a compelling narrative that inspires and connects with the audience’s deepest rooted needs and desires.  Chapter Two’s Prompts on pages 48-50 can serve as an exercise and a basis for narrative presentations at the beginning of the new Professional Communication and Presentation class which will feed into the overall narrative students will tell in their Professional Persona Projects based on Slim’s Body of Work.

What was your favorite part of Donovan’s How To Deliver A TED Talk?  Can you make any additional connections between Donovan’s book and Slim’s Body of Work?

A New Elizabeth Gilbert TED Talk!


“Success, Drive, And The Drive To Keep Creating” is a brand new TED Talk by Elizabeth Gilbert.  A follow-up to her wildly popular TED Talk five years ago, this shorter presentation is just as compelling and tackles the subject of success.  Check it out below:


Equal parts funny and touching, Gilbert’s story-based content takes audience members on a journey out of failure.  Her humor and her wisdom make me feel like I know her, and this delivery style embodies Garr Reynolds’ “naked” presenter philosophy.  Whether you’re an artist or not, Gilbert’s message will resonate with you.

What was your favorite part about Gilbert’s new TED Talk?