When you're organising a training session, deciding how you're going to present your information to your students can be tough. You want to make sure you're presenting the content in a way that will not only do the information justice, but will also let your students take as much from your training sessions as possible.

There are many different ways to teach information to a class, but one of the most common and widely used techniques is a presentation. Presentations let the teacher lay out what they want to discuss ahead of time, so the main points of each training session are clearly decided beforehand. They also give the teacher the chance to talk about and expand upon the points laid out in the presentation, while still keeping their thoughts on track and the lesson structured.

If you decide a presentation is the teaching method for you, there are lots of different ways you can present the information to your students. Let's take a look at some different presentation techniques and styles, so you can decide which one is best for you and your class.

PowerPoint

Typing on keyboard

A PowerPoint slideshow is usually the standard when it comes to presentations for use in the classroom or the workplace. While PowerPoint is quite easy to use, it's important that it's done well in order to be an effective teaching aid. If you're using a terrible presentation, chances are your students will be focussing more on that, rather than the information you're trying to teach them.

Plan Your Content

In order to create a really good presentation, you want to plan out what you are trying to say beforehand. It's important to have both a good opening and closing statement, so people are clear what you are going to discuss, and what the main points you covered in the presentation were.

With the bulk of your information, you want to split it down into digestible chunks. Decide on a few main topics you want to talk about, and try to only cover about three or four points per topic. Your students will be unlikely to remember any more than this, so make sure you only cover what is really important.

With your content laid out in a clear manner, you can now move on to creating your slides.

Keep Your Slides Clean

Presentation tools like PowerPoint are designed to help you visualise your ideas, and help get your points across to your audience. It may be tempting to try and convey a lot of connected information on one slide, but this is one of the worst things you can do! PowerPoint presentations are often loaded with far too much text and useless pictures, which are just used for the sake of it.

As you have your content already planned out, make sure to design your presentation to fit the content. Use one slide per point you want to cover, and don't fill the slide up with words. You'll be speaking about the topic anyway, and you want your students to listen to you, not to sit and read a lot of content from a screen. Use the slides as a jumping off point and write as little text as possible. The title of the point you are making, or a question related to the point are great example of what you should use on a PowerPoint slide. Try and limit your word use to about six words per slide, and cover everything else you need to as you are presenting.

Additionally, using pictures is a great way to emphasise a point you're tying to make, but don't use rubbish clipart or fill up a slide with an unrelated image because you think it looks blank. There are plenty of great resources for free stock photography, so get creative, and take the time to find the perfect images for your presentation.

Finally, think about the font you are using. You want to make sure it's easy to read and clear on the screen.

Don't Get Carried Away

PowerPoint offers users the ability to create animations and transitions on their slides, which are designed to make presentations look more fun. However, unless you're a total PowerPoint expert, chances are you're only making your presentation look worse.

Avoid using anything that detracts from the actual information you are trying to get across, as it will only be distracting.

PechaKucha

Conference room

If you need to get your information across quickly and concisely, then PechaKucha might be the presentation style for you. It's also great for people who tend to ramble, as the limited time aspect means you have to cut your presentation down.

PechaKucha was invented by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture as a way to present but ensure the speaker doesn't talk too much or go off on a tangent.

Stick to Your Time Limit

The PechaKucha style of working means that you have a set of 20 slides, each of which you talk about for 20 seconds. This means each presentation should only last 6 minutes and 40 seconds, which is definitely a lot more fast paced than some people will be used to. The idea is to set a timer on your presentation, so the slides will automatically change at 20 seconds, regardless of whether you are finished or not!

When using PechaKucha, it's very important to practise your presentation. If you have 20 slides, you know you can have 20 points you want to cover along to the way, but you need to make sure you're spending the same amount of time on all of them, or the whole thing falls apart. Practise until you are staying within the time limit every time. Practising should help ensure that you are only talking about the most important points, and not getting sidetracked.

Lots of Pictures, No Words

PechaKucha presentation slides should only be pictures and have no words on them at all. If you only have 20 seconds to talk about a slide, you don't want your audience spending half that time trying to read what's on your slides, as they'll miss the majority of what you're saying. As with PowerPoint, pick relevant, high quality images to go with your presentation.

Whiteboarding

Whiteboard

If you don't like to lay out every point of what you're going to talk about ahead of time, then whiteboarding may be the perfect presentation style. This style of presentation involves writing key points and their connections on a whiteboard as you're presenting to your class.

Still Prepare

While you won't need to prepare slides beforehand, it's still important to make sure you prepare for a whiteboard training session. Make sure you've noted down all the main points you want to talk about, so you can refer back to these notes to make sure you've not missed something out.

You may also want to start the class with a few points already written out on the whiteboard. These could be the topic of the training sessions, or some kick-off questions which tell students what the class is all about. Having these written out on the board before you begin will give a clear idea of what will be discuss and help keep you on track with your teaching.

Get Students Involved

The great thing about this more fluid style of working means it's very easy for your students to get involved with the discussion. Points raised by the students can easily be added to the whiteboard in either a list, or something more visual like a mind map. These points can then be used to stimulate further discussion which you may not have considered by yourself.

It's this ability to add student's answers or things that pop into your head on the day that makes whiteboarding a slightly different presentation method. As this is a more fluid style of teaching, it means your presentation will probably be slightly different every time you teach it.

How to Pick the Right Presentation Style

Presentation

In order to pick the right presentation style, you need to consider a few points to see which one will suit you best.

  • What would suit your teaching style? If you like to stick to your carefully planned out lesson exactly, a whiteboard training session probably isn't going to be for you. It's important to look at how your work as a trainer, and therefore what style would compliment your teaching. You want to pick the method that is going to make it easiest for you to teach the best session possible, so consider which style makes you most comfortable.
  • What would suit the content? If you're teaching a very complex subject, which requires a lot of theory, chances are PechaKucha isn't going to convey all the information you need. Also the time limit may leave you feeling quite rushed, with may mean you miss a lot of information out. Some topics require larger PowerPoint style presentations to get their point across, and that's okay. Really think about how much information you will be teaching in the session, and pick the style which suits this best.
  • What would suit your students? It's important to consider your audience when thinking about your presentation, as it's them who will be missing out if you give a poor presentation. If you are teaching people you have taught before, you may want to consider their different learning styles, and see which presentation technique would work best for them. Again, if you're introducing a new topic to a brand new class, a quick-fire style like PechaKucha probably wouldn't suit them, as a lot of the information may go over their head.

Conclusion

Picking a presentation style can be a bit of a challenge. You may be drawn to a particular style just because of personal preference, but it may not suit the material you're teaching or the class you're teaching to, so it's important to take all these things into equal consideration.

It may be worth trying out a number of different presentation styles to see which ones work best for all involved, and then you can really get a feel for which styles you are most confident using.

You also don't have to stick to the same presentation style all the time. What may work well for one session may not work well for another, so feel free to mix it up so you're always using the presentation style that best suits your situation.