Sheila B Robinson

Reflections of an everyday educator/program evaluator/professional developer…LEARNER


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Seven Simple Strategies to Engage Any Audience

I love PowerPoint! I especially love well-designed slides, and I have fun putting into practice what I’ve learned about slide design.

Once you have visually appealing slides that encourage your audience to focus attention on you and support your content…AND you have appropriate  content that is important, interesting, or imperative to your audience, how will you deliver it in an engaging way?  Continue reading

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Unconventional Wisdom: Putting the WHY Before the WHAT of Presentation Design

There’s really not much good on television anymore. So, I enjoy some down time outside of work and entertain myself by designing slide decks. I just uploaded my second to SlideShare. While it’s all fun, there’s a purpose here too, and for me, it’s to practice what I’ve been learning about data visualization, information design, and presentations. There’s certainly no paucity of engaging, compelling source material available out there.  I’m so excited that just as I finished this project, the newest issue of New Directions for Evaluation (a publication of the American Evaluation Association (AEA)) – a Special Issue on Data Visualization – was released online and features the work of some of my favorite evaluators, data visualization experts, and information designers. You can read all of the abstracts hereContinue reading


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Data Visualization & Information Design: One Learner’s Perspective

I’ve been reading a lot on these hot topics and, ever the teacher, I know that applying my new learning, and teaching it to others is the best way to deepen my own understanding. With that in mind, I’ve created a slide deck and branched out to another social media outlet – SlideShare – in order to be able to share this content with you!

Once you’ve enjoyed this slide deck (or perhaps before doing so), check out my “before” slide below it. I originally had no intention of sharing this, but happened to stumble upon a PowerPoint presentation I had created for my dissertation defense. Yikes! What a dramatic illustration of what NOT to do on a PowerPoint slide! And I assure you, I presented it to my committee exactly as you see it here, and most likely read aloud what is on the slide (and the many others that complete the “show”). My only defense (pun intended!) is that it was 2007, and much of the information I share with you today was not yet “out there,” and quite frankly, I didn’t know enough to be looking for it!  Continue reading


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Declare YOUR independence (from bad PowerPoint) today!

It’s Independence Day here in the US and today, I’d like YOU to declare YOUR independence from bad PowerPoint. No more traditional title and content slides. No more endless bulleted lists. No more sentence after sentence slides that push the limits of slide boundaries. No more cheesy clip art “artfully” placed in the bottom right-hand corner of each slide.

Soon after I published “What NOT to Present” after attending a course at the American Evaluation Association Summer Evaluation Institute with evaluator-turned-information designer Stephanie Evergreen, another evaluator, Excel guru Ann Emery posted a link to economist and dataviz specialist John Schwabish’s slideshare: Layering: A Presentation Technique. As soon as I saw these slides, I knew I had to share them too.  Continue reading


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What NOT to Present

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of teaching and learning at the American Evaluation Association (AEA) Summer Evaluation Institute in Atlanta, GA. I taught a course entitled “It’s Not the Plan, It’s the Planning: Strategies for Evaluation Plans and Planning.” I’ll write about that course another day.

On Sunday June 2, I had the pleasure of taking a full-day pre-institute course from information designer Stephanie Evergreen, called Presenting Data Effectively.

Stephanie is to presentation design what Stacey and Clinton are to fashion (if you’re missing the analogy, click here). She’s the “What NOT to Present” guru. Show up with bad PowerPoint design and she will teach you “the rules.”  Continue reading


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Can a DataViz novice become a slide snob?

Yes. Yes, I can. Like so many other evaluators (and journalists, presenters, trainers, etc.) I’ve been sucked into the compelling world of Data Visualization and Reporting, Infographics, and the art of presentation. It’s evaluspheric reform at its best. In fact, I can see a new branch growing on Christina Christie and Marvin Alkin’s Evaluation Theory Tree. It’s the REPORTING branch, and it’s just starting to bud. It will certainly feature data visualization leaders and thinkers, and I imagine the first name to appear near the base will be Evergreen (hey, now THAT’S a name that works, given the tree metaphor!).

Stephanie Evergreen’s Potent Presentations Initiative (P2i) has helped launch a new wave of evaluation DataViz & Reporting enthusiasts, and catalyzed my newest learning journey which included giving my first Ignite Presentation at AEA2012. Back in 2010, John Nash mentioned two fabulous books in this aea365 post: Nancy Duarte’s Slide:ology, and Garr Reynolds’ Presentation Zen.  I can assure you, they’re both WELL worth the investment. Susan Kistler (among others) has posted and presented many, many tech tools and resources to fuel the cravings of any data or tech geek (a quick search on aea365 yields over a dozen of her posts on the topic).  Continue reading