innovatED Magazine - Issue 3 - Autumn 2019


A lively mix of news, articles, opinion, research, insight and regulatory updates. We take a global perspective and bring the latest developments and outstanding practice from across the world and across different sectors to enable educators to deliver the very best for their pupils. Produced by an experienced and knowledgeable teaching and school leadership team, innovatED is a termly must-read for all staff rooms.

4. One idea per slide – that’s it. Simple, clear and effective.

Don’t let your message and your ability to tell a story get derailed by

slides that are unnecessarily complicated, busy, or full of what Edward

Tufte calls “chart junk.” Nothing in your slide should be superfluous,


5. Take it slowly – give them chance to absorb what you are saying.

Make your point and give something for them to think about

You could, for example, pose questions or open up holes in people’s

knowledge and then fill those holes. Make the audience aware that they

have a gap in their knowledge and then fill that gap with the answers to

the puzzle (or guide them to the answers). Take people on a journey of

discovery. And this journey is filled with bits of the unexpected. This is

what keeps the journey moving forward.

6. Talk ‘to’ the audience – Don’t turn your back on them. Make good

eye contact and look at individuals rather than scanning the group.

Looking directly at individuals is a superb device to make your audience

feel like you are talking to them directly. Since you are using a computer,

you never need to look at the screen behind you — just glance down at

the computer screen briefly. One sure way to lose an audience is to turn

your back on them. And while you’re maintaining great eye contact, don’t

forget to smile as well. Unless your topic is very grim, a smile can be a

very powerful thing.

7. Keep it short

Humans have short attention spans when it comes to

passively sitting and listening to a speaker. Audience

attention is greatest at the opening and then again when you say

something like “In conclusion…”

This is just the human condition, especially so for the busy (often tired)

knowledge worker of today. So, if you have 30 minutes for your talk,

finish in 25 minutes. It is better to have the audience wanting more (of

you) than to feel that they have had more than enough. Professional

entertainers know this very well.

Remember, we will not impact everyone in even our greatest

presentations. But if we can get enough people talking about the

content in the hours or days after our talk, that is success. Maybe we

have lit a spark or motivated someone just a little to explore our

message more deeply in future. That is what change is built upon, and

that will have made the preparation and delivery of the presentation


Robert Lilley is an experienced Head, inspector and school governor.

Autumn 2019 | innovatED | Issue 3 | Page 27

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