How To Present Well: Introduction

The self-aggrandizing title embarrasses me a little, but to the extent that it’s culturally acceptable to acknowledge our strengths alongside our weaknesses this is mine: I know how to present well. I’m learning lots. Constantly. Almost always by example. Better presentations than mine make my presentations better. This is an appropriate occasion to share what I’ve learned.

See, this has been a depressing summer so far and until recently, I was sure it was gonna end that way. I invested sixty- and seventy-hour weeks this last school year into my identity as Dan Meyer, Teacher. About the second week of pretending to be Dan Meyer, Video Editor, I became, in a very real sense, depressed. I felt flat, mopey, humorless. I wore out the snooze button.

But then somewhere in June I was given an hour to present anything to a group of pre-service math teachers in San Jose, CA. My life has been the second half of a Zoloft commercial since. I’ve invested a lot of time into this presentation not because it demanded it but because every minute I spent hacking away at it, I felt reconnected to the best part of my professional life.

This blog wasn’t around for the construction of my last presentation (everything before January was back-dated) so it seemed appropriate to blog the process of this one.

It’s called “Kicking out the Cliché.” I present it July 19th. It’ll be my best presentation to date. In six (more) daily installments, here’s why.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


  1. Ben, I’d recommend PZ anywhere to anyone. Garr doesn’t post altogether often anymore, though.

    Todd, I’m presenting at a high school I’ve never heard of in Oakland (not San Jose – my bad).

  2. Get your geography right! Good luck and I look forward to the rest of this. Can we assume you’ll post all your presentation files, Keynote decks included?

  3. And just to kinda preview what I mean by “buncha”:

    There’s a debate that raged awhile ago: do you build your slides so that they’ll stand just as well later on when you post them on Slideshare, when you won’t be speaking over them.

    The answer there is a very loud no. Over the course of this presentation I’ll be creating a slidedeck which my voice will accompany, a slidedeck which I’ll put on the Internet, a set of handouts, and a video. Maybe a baby’s onesie. And guaranteed I’ll be reworking and remassaging the message to complement each of those mediums. There are no shortcuts, as easy as it is to hit Export or Print from PowerPoint’s File menu.

    That’s, like, day three of this.

  4. That’s a great point to be made: if it’s something you are going to show during your presentation, it needs to be one thing. If it’s going to stand on its own in the hands of participants in the room with you, that’s another. If it’s going to be looked at later without you there to explain, that’s yet another. The trouble, of course, is that none of those can look *too* different from the others or you risk people puzzling over whether or not it was the same presentation. And then you’ve got the whole color vs. b&w copy problem to consider if you’re looking at handouts for 150 people.

    The same applies to handouts in the classroom. What’s the objective and who will do the talking? Build accordingly.

  5. I’ve presented dozens of national, state and local presentations/workshops over the last 10 years–but have been out of the loop the last few years. I’ve been asked to present three 3-hour workshops/presentations later this fall so I’m back in the saddle–I happened upon Vicki Davis’s blog entry called Tips and Insights on New Presentation 2.0. She has some good ideas and lots of samples. You might be interested.

  6. Rumor has it that those pre-teachers’ instructors have been deferring a wide array of questions to you, in absentia, in advance of your coming.

  7. Uhm, building suspense by delaying the next post in the series? I feel like I did when I used to watch the soaps… running home to see what happened. Only now, I’m checking my RSS feed —yes, it is a very exciting life I lead — no offense intended :)

  8. Ah, I had the impression that the six daily installments were pre-written. Happy presenting today!