Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Assertion-Evidence Type Slides are Winning for Andrew Cuomo

Andrew Cuomo's briefings on the corona virus emergency are getting rave reviews. People are noticing his effective use of PowerPoint.
"Not since Steve Jobs’s iPhone keynote have people gotten so excited about a presentation. ... But with each briefing, it’s become increasingly apparent: There’s a secret star. His PowerPoint slides." Smith, Fast Company
 Here's another positive opinion:
"Cuomo's updates provide a lesson in the effective use of PowerPoint: His presentation slides are simple, clear and instructive." Gallo, Inc.  
There's a reason why these PowerPoint presentations are working well. Many of his slides are following an assertion-evidence formatting style. The assertion is a bold statement at the top. The evidence is a graphic that supports the statement. It's a winning combination that's works well for the audience.

Here's an example. Notice the bold statement at the top (assertion). The graphic underneath supports the statement (evidence).


This isn't a perfect example of the assertion-evidence style but it comes very close. The assertion-evidence format would work better without the unnecessary background graphic and maybe a more complete statement. For more examples, see

Looking through his slide decks there's something that is missing: Bullet points. Very few of the slides are following the standard bullet point formatting style. Check out these examples from Maybe you should consider ditching your old bullet point formatted slides to follow this more effective assertion-evidence format.

I thank my friend and colleague Steve Haase for alerting me to this example.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

White text + colored background = invisible

I recently had the opportunity to help seven undergraduate students prepare for a presentation at a regional conference. These people are some of our best students. Four out of the seven students had slides that looked like this:

Slide with white text on a light blue background
White text on a colored background becomes nearly invisible in our classrooms. It's washed out. Turning off all of the overhead lights doesn't help very much. There is too much ambient light coming in from the windows and an emergency overhead light that cannot be turned off. 

The slides that had black text on a light background had much better visibility. It's a better sensory combination for most classrooms. 

Slide designs and color combinations that look good on your office computer can completely fail during a presentation. The only way to be sure is to test the appearance in the classroom. 

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Slides for Students for Free!

Slides for Students is a book about teaching with PowerPoint. The inspiration for the book was that PowerPoint offered amazing possibilities, but my presentations didn't seem very engaging to the students. The mediocre student reaction occurred even though I was following widely-used presentation standards like bullet-point formatted lists. Slides for Students is an evidence-based approach to designing better educational presentations. The focus is on teaching, but other professionals like scientists, engineers, and business people might these ideas useful too.

UNG Press is offering free pdf downloads of this book for a limited time (until August) as part of their effort to help educators cope with the COVID-19 virus emergency. This is a $40 value! I appreciate their willingness to make this special offer.

The download link is available on the book's home page at UNG Press:

More information about the book is available at this online Sway presentation:

I hope you find these presentation ideas to be useful for your students. Let's work together to make the term "Death by PowerPoint" an obsolete saying!