Stop Letting Good Students Do Bad Presentations

Stop Letting Good Students Do Bad Presentations

The good news is that more and more often students are presenting at education conferences. The bad news is that they’re doing a poor job and it’s their teacher’s fault.

Don’t be a teacher who let’s your students give a bad presentation. Before you have your students present make sure you’ve prepared them with these tips.


PowerPoint is not a bad tool. It can be great as long as you don’t use it to project slides with a header and bullets. There IS NEVER a time when it is okay to have a slide with a headline and bullets. PowerPoint (or any presentation tool) should be used to show NOT tell. Show images, charts, diagrams. You might have a few words in a dialogue, thought bubble, or caption, but in general there should be little to no words on a slide. Words come from the presenters, not the slides.


I’m saddened to say that nearly every student presentation I’ve seen has involved students reading headers and bullets off a slide. There IS NEVER a time when it is okay to have students read slides.


Having headers and bullets is bad. Having a presentation that consists of students reading them is worse. What makes it downright awful is when the students place their back toward the audience, look at the screen and read to it. I can’t believe that teachers would allow their students to speak to a screen but I’ve seen it time and time again. Teachers, don’t let your students make this mistake. They speak to the audience, not the screen.


Presenting ISN’T reading. Don’t, don’t, don’t have your students read to an audience. Have them tell their story. Kids are great at talking. Help them learn to talk to the audience about what they are presenting. It’s not about memorizing. It’s just about telling others what it is they felt was important enough to present.


When I watch students present I feel as though they’ve never watched great presentations from youth. Don’t have students present unless they have seen what a great presentation looks like. You can start at TEDxYouth. Have students watch. Identify what works. What doesn’t. Then ask them to consider these strategies when they present.


Videotape your students before they present to an audience then watch the video with them. Facilitate a conversation about ways it could be more like what works and how they can improve what doesn’t work.

So, what do you think? Have you made these mistakes? Have you done things right? If so, please share in the comments.

Lisa Nielsen writes for and speaks to audiences across the globe about learning innovatively and is frequently covered by local and national media for her views on “Passion (not data) Driven Learning,” "Thinking Outside the Ban" to harness the power of technology for learning, and using the power of social media to provide a voice to educators and students. Ms. Nielsen has worked for more than a decade in various capacities to support learning in real and innovative ways that will prepare students for success. In addition to her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator, Ms. Nielsen’s writing is featured in places such as Huffington Post, Tech & Learning, ISTE Connects, ASCD Wholechild, MindShift, Leading & Learning, The Unplugged Mom, and is the author the book Teaching Generation Text.

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.

Lisa Nielsen (@InnovativeEdu) has worked as a public-school educator and administrator since 1997. She is a prolific writer best known for her award-winning blog, The Innovative Educator. Nielsen is the author of several books and her writing has been featured in media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Tech & Learning.  

Disclaimer: The information shared here is strictly that of the author and does not reflect the opinions or endorsement of her employer.