Signal vs. noise ratio

we recently read the article Presentation Design: Principles and Techniques, by Garr Reynolds to help us design our upcoming pecha kucha presentations. For those reading this that do not know what that is, a pech kuch is a 20 slided presentation with only 20 seconds allowed per slide. Now I have made slideshows in the past, but I have never had guidelines like this. It’s all been a little overwhelming because nothing I’ve ever done has matched something like this, so going through the article I decided it would be best for me to put my focus on the very basics of this presentation: the slide layout.

Now starting here they use a term I have never heard before and it didn’t sound like many others had heard it unless they were involved in a radio scene, and that was signal to noise ratio. The idea behind it is simple. Cutting out the excess to get your true message through. Now I was aware of getting your message through, but I was always taught about making things look good. In fact a lot of what I was taught was quite the opposite of the article. I always believed that if my slides were too simple that I was doing something wrong, but cutting out on flashy things in favor of making things clear makes more sense to me. Excess images and effects in this case are referred to as noise and can clutter your message. By keeping these to a minimum you can make your message more understandable to a wider audience.

I also found it interesting that 2D images are far more favorable over 3D images. I had know knowledge of this before but after reading about images cluttering slides I understand the preference.

There are exceptions to what images go in however. If the image provides some kind of attachment to the data it can be added. I had some idea about this as I knew the data and images should correlate, but the part about emotional attachment was new.

All this I found very helpful in making a presentation. Keeping slides simple and short is the key to having a good presentation and helping your point get across, but for simplicity one can always remember the 1-7-7 rule. One main idea, seven lines per slide, and seven words per line maximum.

This will become very important in my future teaching because I will be making many slides for many audiences and what they will all take away depends on how well I put my slides together. So in the future I will make my slides short, meaningful, and easy to understand.


2 thoughts on “Signal vs. noise ratio

  1. I like what you said about cutting out excess. It holds true to what I believe as well. I also like that you referenced your future teaching career because this excerpt will definitely come in handy!


  2. I agree. Your specific references to Presentation Zen are helpful- it shows that you’ve read and understood the main ideas presented by the author. Remember, as the teacher during direct instruction, you want your audience to listen to you, not mindlessly scribbling down bullet points.


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