What Makes a Great Online Presentation?

With K12 online conference 2009 under way, it leads me to ask what makes a good online presentation? How do you create compelling online content that can and will be reused. Remember these are not live sessions but rather presentations in a variety of formats intended to be used in a variety of ways by a variety of users. That's challenging to say the least. I applaud anyone who tackles such a task.

Since its inception in 2006, it's been interesting to see the presentations evolve. The decision last year to go to a more "TED-like" format was a good one in my opinion as it addresses the amount of content in the conference but also gets presenters to get to the point. Twenty minutes is long enough in any context but on the web it's particularly daunting to keep folks interested.

There have been a number of delivery models and to be sure, and a clear winning style has not been established. However, there are a few concepts that seem to work, at least for me.

While it's hard to separate content from design, here are a few presentations that use some techniques that I think make them very viewable. I've taken one from each year, with the exception of 2006.

2009 Around the World with Skype by Silvia Rosenthal Tolisano. Silvia does a number of things which makes for a compelling presentation. She's clear on the onset about what she will be talking about. It's frustrating to watch 5 minutes of a 20 minute presentation trying to guess what it's about and what will be shared. Silvia let's you know early on exactly what she'll be discussing. She uses her own images. You can spend a lot of time searching flickr for the perfect image. Her use of her personal avatar figure likely took a long time to shoot all the images but in the end helps her create a great introduction. She uses video to show examples. Live examples not only illustrates her concept more richly but anytime you can include students in action adds an emotional connection to the ideas.

2008 Film School for Video Podcasters by Matthew Needleman. Matthew obviously possess some storytelling skills and given his topic, you'd expect that. Matthew uses a story, a 1940's detective theme to weave in his ideas. A clever twist but one that's not used superfluously but as a meaningful way to share his ideas. He does a great job of chunking ideas. There are clear breaks and transitions. Easy to review.

2007 Online Professional Development by Jeff Utecht. While this was before the 20 minute time limit, Jeff still has a well designed presentation. It may not be possible in every presentation but Jeff models what he means by have some very informal, natural conversations that truly illustrate his point. Like Silvia, he shows you exactly what it looks like.

2006 Wiki While You Work by Mark Wagner. This was again before the current time limits but Mark really explored the ideas of what an online presentation could be. He made it personal. Simply by recording his presentation from his home office, talking with his friends and wife, it invited you in, to want to learn more. I applaud Mark for being being a pioneer in the online presentation.

2006 Derailing Education: Taking Side Trips for Learning by David Warlick. Having the first Keynote for year one, must have been both pressure packed as well as the feeling of a new frontier. Like Mark, but even more so, David invited us in to his home and town to explore. David carefully used his physical space to make clear connections to his ideas. While it was largely theoretical, the use of that space and helped to forge his ideas into something that I still reflect on today.

I'd invite you to watch these if only to examine them from a presentation perspective. These may not have been your favorites or even the best but I think they do offer some techniques and delivery models that work. Creating a presentation that's worth watching is hard work and nothing any of us were trained in given the fact that the genre has only existed for a few years.

Now it's your turn. Do you have a favorite K12 Online or other presentation that you think has a unique delivery model?