My colleague Dr. Stephanie Horsley and I presented to 30 participants for 90 minutes at our annual Teaching with Technology Day on “The Power of Powerpoint”.  In this presentation, we focused on the important legwork that (in theory) happens before actually opening up PowerPoint and beginning to create.

Brief Outline:

  • hook the audience with a busy and complicated slide, and an alternative way of showing the same information,
  • introduce 5 key design principles from cognitive multimedia theory,
  • introduce the idea of storyboarding outside of powerpoint
  • invite participants to practice storyboarding in groups with a given set of slides about governments of Canada
  • invite participants to storyboard one of their own slides or set of slides (focusing on a single concept).

Participants practice storyboarding powerpoint slides in small groups in the WALS classroom

You can view our accompanying slides below, noting that PowerPoint online does not display some of the animations that illustrate the key design principles.


The participants in our session were engaged and involved in the session, with lots of questions and ideas to share.  Reviews of the session were largely positive, though some participants were hoping for more of a technical “how to” or help with special features within Powerpoint rather than a focus on learning and applying design principles for learning.  Below is some of this anonymous feedback:

“The PowerPoint session wasn’t what I expected; I thought I would be learning about PPT features.”


“Power Point because (as I’ve indicated above), it’s a program I use extensively. Trial and error had already led me to some of the insights offered, but it was helpful to have the relevant pedagogical/cognitive concepts spelled out directly and clearly, and the session will, I think, have an impact on how I revise/create my slides in future.” – in response to “Which session was most relevant to you and why?”


“I will be revamping some of my PPT slides, I won’t have time to revamp them all this year.” – In response to “What will you change as a result of your attendance”


Powerpoint. I already follow best practices, but I think it was good for most participants (and would be even better for most who did not attend). I guess I was expecting a session about tricks, extensions, and functions for Powerpoint. – In response to “Which session was least relevant to you and why?”


“I have a slide deck that I’m working on for an upcoming presentation and I am in the process of implementing some of the ideas from the powerpoint session!” – In response to “What will you change as a result of your attendance?”