Where do we go from here? When presentations just go wrong.

Today was visual resume showcase day in Professional Communication and Presentation. I am happy to say that my students created lovely decks/visual stories that represented who they want to be as professionals and the steps they are taking to achieve those goals. Here are a few of my favorites:

I love Crystal’s sense of aesthetic and design; as a trained and capable artist and illustrator, Crystal created these visuals herself in the Adobe Creative suite, included many of her own works and images, and told a succinct story. My favorite is slide is number 7!

Mikayla did such a wonderful job of integrating her own images and using her own aesthetic to convey personality and passion for her chosen industry. Her entire look is cohesive, well structured, and engaging.

Andy is my favorite student this month, I cannot lie. His bravery and willingness to push past his anxieties about presenting make me smile. What I love about his visual resume is his use of personal imagery and storytelling. You can really see how he’s progressed from dreamy boy to dream maker.

Check out the rest of this month’s visual resume’s below



Now, on to the part of today that had me nearly in presentation teacher tears….out of 28 students, only a handful were prepared to effectively execute the other important part of this visual resume assignment, a brief presentation explaining their approach to the presentation (how they chose their brand mantra, how they chose their target audience, how they made their design decisions, and what the project overall has to say about them as professionals).

As I sat watching one presentation after another, many of which simply involved students reading the question and then answering each one, staring at their slides, fumbling through ideas, and closing with the dreaded phrase “that’s it”, I thought, “where did I go wrong?” Was it in focusing all class time on developing the project and not enough on what would actually be presented in class, the explanation of how the project came together? Was it in allowing students the option of showing their slides as they explained their project? Was it in not asking for an outline of their rationale speech before class? In speaking to students, despite explaining both in person and in writing that on presentation day they would not be presenting every slide of their visual resume but would instead present an explanation of their process and approach, the resounding answer was I didn’t know that’s what you wanted me to do, or I thought just answering the questions would be enough.

I feel discouraged as a teacher and know that this not working in execution is my fault. What I don’t know is how to go from here? Return to preparation? Move on to the next project? What would you do in this situation? How do I reinvigorate the spirit of learning and growth in my class?

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2 thoughts on “Where do we go from here? When presentations just go wrong.

  1. Cory Jim says:

    Aloha Chiara!

    Wow! That is great that you as a teacher had this opportunity to teach students on the visual resume process and I am certain they will not forget their experience in creating one. My take on creating a visual resume/story is that it takes a lot of time and preparation to even execute a final product that is presentable.

    There are many many factors that one must take in to consideration such as:

    A clear purpose to in fact land a job. How to use keynote/powerpoint effectively. The power of the perfect picture. How to storyboard. How to place fonts. Font Legibility. How to create a color palette. What branding is. What marketing is. A call to action. Engagement. The sales process. Different personalities. How much is too much. Where to emphasis a point. How to stand out. And many more…

    …Is the student just going through the motion to get a passing grade? Are they afraid of public speaking. Did they get the right instruction. Did they have enough time. Are they excited to do it. Would they rather do something else instead.

    We made contact with a huge job fair locally a while back where we live to teach a FREE workshop on creating a ‘visual resume’. The organizers of the fair did not understand what a visual resume was nor the potential opportunities of creating one, and turned us down in lieu of workshops instead on how to create a traditional paper resume and what to say in an interview. That is okay. Maybe it is was not the target market for a visual resume in the first place.

    At times I feel the same way when I give out a project to our team and it comes back totally opposite of what I had envisioned. Was it my fault? Where could I give more clarity on what I want as a final product? Was it too hard of a project? What can I do to give more guidance in the process?

    What I have found is that sometimes one does not have the excellence mentality, drive, passion, and just finishes the project going through the motions just to get it over with. Those are the ones that don’t quite get it (yet). Do we spend the time nurturing them to get better, or do we seek out better talent that is passionate for presentations? We let them go as it is not what they are self motivated to do.

    I wouldn’t be so hard on yourself. You are doing a great service in getting your students aware of what is not yet mainstream as far as standing out from the traditional resume class and marketing oneself to the world. I’m certain you’ve learned from your experience teaching the class as did the students whom participated. They might not see the value just yet, but it will arise again in the near future. Mahalo for sharing your thoughts!

    – Cory

  2. […] public speaking and presentation in the classroom.  Chiara explains her negative experience in “When Presentations Go Wrong,” and her solution in “When Presentations Go Wrong, Think Preparation and […]

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