One of the areas I’m working on professionally this year is my presentation skills. I think I have some natural teaching gifts and I have intuited my way fairly well to this point, but I’d especially like to grow in the area of classroom presentation. In particular, I’m learning how to do a much better job with PowerPoint/Keynote presentations. Instead of presenting lists of bullet points, I’m working to incorporate images, to tell stories — and to sometimes abandon PPT completely.
Professors are generally seen as repositories of information. We open our mouths (or turn on the projector) and pour this information in/on to students. In my classes this year, I’m going to work on moving away from the “feed me!” model and toward a more dynamic, interactive, thought-provoking experience, at least by “boring academic” standards. I’ve just added a book to my Amazon Wish List: The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to Be Insanely Great In Front of Any Audience. If you ever watched one of Jobs’ keynote presentations (and especially compared it to Tim Cook), you’ll know that presentation is just as important as information.
I look forward to being stretched this year, and to stretching my students and colleagues in the process.