What’s wrong with a slideument?…question from the backchannel

To offer additional support to our learners concerning persuasive presentations and slide deck development, we developed a mini-lesson on using videos from Garr ReynoldsPresentation Zen, and Nancy DuarteSlide:ology.  Half of each team watched Presentation Zen: The Videoand the other half watched Duarte Design’s Five Rules for Presentation by Nancy Duarte.  Our learners listened at their own pace, and paused the video at key moments to take notes in our Soapbox backchannel.

Select comments from the backchannel:

  • NN: simplicity- less is more
  • bt: practice design not decoration
  • IW: not about decorating, more about design
  • WL: A thought provoking video that not only moves eyes, but hearts too.
  • SDH: DE-decorate
  • TN: nancy duarte— why they should adopt your view is important in a presentation and make it easily understandable.
  • TH: 5 rules to make a good presentation: 1. treat audience as king 2.spread ideas and move people 3. help them see what you’re saying 4. practice design not decoration 5. cultivate healthy relationships, with your slide and your audience
  • SL: pictures stick with people much more than words a lot of the time
  • KU: Why are sliduments a problem? they seem okay to me.
  • LM: include only what is necessary to get the point across
  • LN: Help them see what you are saying
  • LM: conversational mannor (Steve Jobs)
  • NN: good to come across in a conversational manner even if you are speaking to hundreds
  • XE: RESEARCH: Kinetic Typography! Simple, Effective way to get information across.
  • WL: Practice design, not decoration. De-decorate.
  • SL: don’t be over-decorative, sometimes more really is less
  • TN: though provoking video helps show them what you mean and spread it to their heart. Replace words with pictures to look united and attracted to the message.
  • *Research
  • LM: death by bulletpoints
  • FC: 1. treat your audience as kings 2.spread ideas and move people 3. help them see what you are saying 4. practice design, not decoration 5. cultivate healthy relationships with slides and audience
  • TN: reduce words
  • NX: restrain from extra things that aren’t necessary
  • LM: slidument= slide and document that you put together

The backchannel offers us an opportunity to hear more questions, to share our notes and learning, and to answer others’ questions.  The backchannel offers the facilitator, teacher, and coach an opportunity for to adjust the lesson in the moment.  One comment prompted me to show my learning progression to our team.

KU: Why are sliduments a problem? they seem okay to me.

Great question, huh?  How many of us have hundreds of examples of sliduments that we have used in presentations in the past?  So, I pulled out two presentations that I have actually used to talk about establishing essential learnings and asked which of these two presentations draws the listener in to the topic and conversation?


Wouldn’t it have been great to learn about presentations and have facilitated practice at age 13 instead of later as an adult?

To practice and apply this lesson, our learners were challenged to return to their latest Ignite-lite developing presentation, pick one slide, and create 3 different ways to present the message on this one slide. They said no.  The challenge did not fit their needs.  The teams wanted to redo more than one slide; they wanted to redo all of their slides.

Is it okay if we work on more than one slide?  Can we divide the work and accomplish more than re visioning one slide?

Do we now know what is wrong with a slidument?  Do we want to improve our products?  What can we accomplish if we learn and work together?


  1. Backchanneling during student presentations is an excellent idea. I could see taking this even further during practice sessions, and having each student focus on on particular aspect of the presentation—vocal delivery, design, body language, etc, and then the student could look back at the transcript and then each person’s comments would be specific advice on how to improve one aspect of the presentation.

    Later, when critiquing final presentations, the students could refer back to the backchannel to prepare some sort of overall summary/feedback for the presenter, and the presenter would then have two sources of feedback—the play by play backchannel transcript which might be a pretty cheep dial-meter of engagement and then an overall feedback from each member of the audience.

    Do this a few times and I think students (and faculty) would improve at giving presentations very quickly.


  2. My students have really taken to backchanneling in French during student presentations. They actually pay attention to each other’s presentations, whereas in the past they only thought about their own presentations. They also bring up a lot of great questions. We’ve even had students Skype in from home and participate in the backchannel when they are absent. They love it! I have also used backchanneling during a “fishbowl” activity in which half the class discusses a reading while the other half backchannels and is assigned one person to observe (similar to what they do in JH English).


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