Sheila B Robinson

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


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Presentation Principles: Crowdsourcing Audience Feedback

Presentation Principle: Capitalize on the collective wisdom in the room.

There are many reasons to maintain humility as a presenter. Certainly, it will endear you to the audience. Positioning yourself as a co-learner with your audience members, and not the only “expert” in the room opens up the possibility of having your own presentation serve as a learning experience upon which you can build to advance your practice.

Recently, I taught a pre-conference professional development course – Audience Engagement Strategies for Potent Presentations –  at Evaluation 2015, the annual conference of the American Evaluation Association.

Two interactive strategies during the course allowed participants to interact with each other, and also supplied me with important feedback.

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Presentation Principles: Two simple strategies for audience engagement and all YOU have to do is ask questions!

Presentation Principle:

Keeping an audience engaged throughout the presentation is one key to success.

Do you want to read about two super easy strategies you can immediately incorporate into your presentation practice to keep audience members engaged? OK then, here we go!

I’ve written about audience engagement strategies many times (see here, here, and here)…but the two strategies I’ll share today are even easier than most and require no special equipment or materials. All you need to do is remember to use them.  Continue reading


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Presentation Principles: A Secret Facilitation Move to Increase Audience Engagement

Presentation Principle:

Keeping an audience engaged throughout the presentation is one key to success.

I recently wrote about handling the Q&A portion of the presentation, but did not cover this important move.

Here’s the set-up:

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Presentation Principles: The Audience Engagement Strategy Book

Presentation Principle:

Audience engagement through interactive strategies is key to a successful presentation.

discussion iconA presentation is a precious opportunity – Seth Godin

In summer 2014, I had the opportunity to write the Audience Engagement Strategy Book for the American Evaluation Association’s Potent Presentations (p2i) Initiative (available for free download on the p2i website). I’d written about audience engagement before (see here and here), but this time wanted to share specific interactive strategies that come with sets of directions and steps, and that can be customized to fit a presenter’s specific context.  Continue reading


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Presentation Principles: Right-sizing the Room to Maximize Audience Engagement

Presentation Principle:

The right setting can impact how your audience experiences a presentation.

It’s the Goldilocks conundrum: You’re scheduled for a conference presentation (i.e. a non-ticketed event were people do not pre-register) and you get to the room, only to discover that it is either too small or too big for your anticipated audience size… definitely not just rightContinue reading


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Presentation Principles: Foundations of Effective Presentations

There are multiple pathways to great presentations.

Some presenters are fortunate enough to be naturally possessed of  stage presence, charisma, or a je ne sais quois that keeps their audience hanging on their every word. After all, Martin Luther King, Jr. didn’t use PowerPoint slides.* Steve Jobs never asked his audience to turn and talk to an elbow partner. The rest of us, though, are just not there. We’re presenting to the board, our colleagues, university students, fellow conference-goers, or some other audience who may or may not know us or be familiar with our work. “Star quality” is not something we can rely on for a successful presentation.  Continue reading


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Presentation Principles: A Q&A on the Q&A

You’re ready for the big day. You have your best content all set to go, well-designed visuals, and a plan for successful delivery including how to engage your audience. You’ve practiced in the mirror, on your family, and on your pets, and they have all given you the go-ahead for your presentation. The night before, however, you wake up at 3:17am in a cold sweat thinking, “How will I handle the Q&A?”  Continue reading


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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