ENG 420 14.2: Final Presentations

Today’s Plan:

  • Canvas: Two assignments
  • Presentations
  • Visual Rhetoric Crash Course


There’s two new assignments up, the final paper draft (1 point) and the final paper (200 points).


First, let’s look to the syllabus:

In our last week, I will ask everyone to give a 10 to 12 minute presentation on their end of semester research, complete with handout. This is to prepare you for academic conference presentations.

First, let’s note length: 10 to 12 minutes means 5 to 6 pages double-spaced.

Second, let’s talk handout. That is a one-page overview of your paper. Here’s some examples I have used:

Computers and Composition, Rhetoric Society of America

Third, let’s talk presentation. You have two options:

  • To give a live presentation accompanied by a slide presentation
  • To show a short documentary style movie

Regardless of which option you choose, I am going to require the presentations to (loosely) follow the Pecha Kucha format.

Because our presentations are capped at 5-6 minutes, I will ask you to make a presentation that is 20-24 slides at 15 seconds each. So, if you are talking live, the slides will play in the background.

This might seem like a lot of work, but it shouldn’t be.

Crash Course in Visual Rhetoric and Presentation Design

Today I’m going to try and cram as much substantive frames for thinking about presentation design as I can into one lecture.

Bullets are Bad I want to start with Edward Tufte’s classic “PowerPoint is Evil.” Tufte provides us with a sense for what *not* to do.

Images Spur Emotions I also want us to think about the substance of Dan Pink’s presentation above: the emotive potential of images to augment talks (and to think stylistically about the way he oscillates between photos that compliment his content and slides with words that amplify his central points).

The Basic C.R.A.P. One of the first books on design I encountered was Robin Williams’ Non-Designer’s Design Book. In it she offers four basic design principles: Contrast, Repetition, Alignment, and Proximity. Let’s look at a PowerPoint.

Let’s look at how Garr Reynolds, author of Presentation Zen, expands on Williams’ principles.

Typography It strikes me as a little ludicrous to try and explain typography in five minutes, but let’s give it a go. Let’s start with the basics (serif or sans-serif). Let’s look at some more advanced ideas.

Perhaps the best way to think about typography is to look at a few pechakucha presentations and pay attention to the kinds of fonts we see.

Color Just as images have the potential to trigger enhanced emotional responses, colors have the ability to influence our emotional states. Let’s turn to Maria Claudia Cortes’ Color in Motion.

An example of how I put this stuff into practice.

Presentation Expectations Take 2

Now that we have talked about visual rhetoric and design, let’s think about the rubric for the final presentations:

  • Presentation Content: The material presented was meaningful and concise. As a listener, I could identify the speaker’s argument. The speaker provided evidence to support her claims
  • Presentation Delivery: If a live presentation, then the speaker was able to give her talk while maintaining eye contact with the audience (some reading is ok, simply reading is not). If a video, the audio quality was sufficient that we could hear and enjoy the video. In both cases, the speaker was articulate, engaging, and well-paced.
  • Presentation Design:
    • The presentation follows Williams’ C.R.A.P. rules< (emphasis on contrast)/li>
    • The typography looks contemporary; the presentation uses typography in an interesting way; the typography is engaging, not distracting or ugly
    • The presentation uses images (if using a template, the presentation uses different images and not the stock images)
    • The colors used in the presentation make rhetorical sense (rhetorical here means that the colors are used in a way to produce a particular effect on the audience that enhances/compliments/supports the presentation’s argumentative goals)


We will meet back in this lab on Tuesday to work on putting together Pecha Kucha’s using Windows Moviemaker (it is *really* easy).

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