A fresh approach to presentation design

I  recently came across a slide deck posted on Slideshare by Chris Atherton. She’s a psychologist and used to be a Senior Lecturer (formerly Lecturer) in Psychology at the University of Central Lancashire. She’s now working as a User Experience Architect for Numiko ltd

The slides are from a presentation Chris made in April at the Leeds Bettakultcha. According to their website this is:

an evening of short talks accompanied by digital slide presentations. The presenters are all volunteers who have based their talk around something that they are passionate about – which can be absolutely anything.

The format of Bettakultcha talks is 20 slides for 15 seconds each (they transition automatically), and you can talk about anything you want. Chris chose to talk about (what else) psychology.

Too many people use Powerpoint in a bad way – either creating an outline or using it as a script. In either case that results in badly designed, over wordy slides. The slides for a “lecture” type presentation should be visual aids to supplement what the presenter is saying, not to reproduce the talk or act as a teleprompter. They should be visual with minimal words that add to what the speaker is saying. Now this means that if the slides are posted onto Slideshare , where the speaker isn’t present, the slide deck can look pretty meaningless. Chris has got over the problem by annotating the slides with a summary of what she said. The annotations on the slides were added afterwards  so that they make sense to the viewer. They weren’t present on the originals. I’ve noticed that a few people have started to do this and it’s a technique that I’ve started to use with presentations related to my work that I’ve uploaded to Slideshare.

She hasn’t used Powerpoint – she’s tried something quite different. The slides are hand drawn on an iPad using the Paper”. It’s a, fresh, original approach. You’d have to be reasonably good at drawing to use it, though.

As there seems to have been some problems with Slideshare embeds lately, the link to the presentation on the Slideshare website is:


As well as showing a fresh, innovative approach to slide design, I think that this presentation is a really good example  of how to get a technical topic across to a lay audience in a limited time with well designed slides!

6 thoughts on “A fresh approach to presentation design

  1. An interesting set of slides. I’ve now retired as a science teacher but remember doing scientific method with the kids. Here was one googly I used to bowl at them.
    Observation: When you’ve finished the washing up and checked in the bowl, there is always a teaspoon in the bowl when you empty the water out.
    Hypothesis: Teaspoons are made up of food waste and washing up water.
    Prediction When the water dries out, you’ll only have the food waste.
    Test: Look in the cutlery drawer. There’s always bread crumbs at the bottom of the drawer.
    Conclusion: The initial hypothesis must be correct.

    • I have an alternative hypothesis. In our house the teaspoons go in the dishwasher and then seem to disappear between there and the cutlery drawer. Is this proof that there is a teaspoon black hole in our kitchen? I never seem to be able to find any!

      But your example shows that “the scientific method” isn’t foolproof. The quality of the results and conclusions depends on the quality of the hypothesis and the experiment.

      • One of the things I had difficulty getting over was the fact that scince can never prove anything. All a set of results from an experiment can show is that a hypothesis MAY be correct. There may be other explanations though.

      • You’re right, of course John. You can never prove anything with 100% certainty. It’s all about probabilities. But most “lay people” don’t appreciate that and either have a blind faith in what “scientists” tell them or don’t believe a word!

  2. Interesting slides, Mick.

    What kind of mask would you recommend when working with dust? Is this part of your expertise? And more importantly, is it appropriate to be asking a question like this on an inter-blog exchange?

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