The Phd/Life Journey: A Beautiful Sense of Tumultuous Calm

I decided to take a departure from my usual blog posts about presentations, social media, and student learning and development to reflect on the journey I’ve been taking for two full years now… that of a PhD student.  For those of us privileged enough to undertake doctoral study full time, it presents an amazing opportunity for self-reflection, self-renewal, and often a time for some self-doubt as well.  I recently had to introduce myself at the start of a class as a “third year PhD student,” which got me to thinking about how far I’ve come in my own journey in such a short period of time.  So if you’ll allow me to take a turn at the personal, I wanted to use this space to indulge in and process through some of my thoughts.
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Presentation Tip: Books and Resources

Many people ask me about resources available to help them become better presenters and build better presentations.  There are two individuals that I think are doing particularly outstanding work.  I highly suggest checking out their blogs and books.  Links are provided below.

Garr Reynolds


Garr is perhaps my favorite author that speaks and writes on presenting.  An American transplant in Japan, his blog, Presentation Zen, is an excellent resource.  His unique angle on the topic is the way he incorporates elements of Japanese zen and culture into his work (hint: simplicity and harmony are incredibly important).  He also has a great presentation tips page on his website.  Some of his books (again, highly recommended) include:




Presentation Zen: Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery  By Garr Reynolds

This is Garr’s original book, updated to a second edition. I consider this to be the absolute best book out there on the topic.  It gives a great mix of delivery and design advice and it does so in a really engaging visual way.  If you only purchase one of these, this one is it!




Presentation Zen DESIGN: Simple Design Principles and Techniques  By Garr Reynolds

This is one of Garr’s follow-up works that focuses exclusively on the design of slides.  It provides some of the same information found in Presentation Zen, but GREATLY expands on it in much more detail.  You’ll find out more about using color, fonts, images, etc. effectively.




The Naked Presenter: Delivering Powerful Presentations With or Without Slides  By Garr Reynolds

Another follow-up work by Garr.  This book focuses more on the delivery aspects of giving a presentation.  As the title says, you don’t need to have slides to deliver a great presentation.  This work is more conceptual in nature, providing was of constructing great narrative arcs in your work.


Nancy Duarte

nancyduarte_sm.jpgNancy is another excellent presenter.  She is the head of the eponymously named, Duarte, that provides presentation design services to clients.  “Duarte creates presentations and offers training based on our unique VisualStory™ methodology, which applies storytelling and visual thinking to craft persuasive communications designed to shift audience beliefs and behaviors.” She also provides many tips and tricks in her books:




Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations  By Nancy Duarte

This book provides a great overall resource for both presentation design and delivery.  You’ll find many similar themes between this and Garr Reynold’s work.  It’s great to compare the two and pick up new insights.


resonateResonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences  By Nancy Duarte

This is a follow-up work to Slide:ology that focuses more on honing your ideas and message.



In addition to the above resources, Mahable posted a great brief article on online resources for presentation design apps.


Facebook Graph Search Just Made Your Job Search More Interesting

Graph SearchFacebook Graph Search proves just how important building up your social network contacts can be.  This new search feature, which has been slowly rolling out over the past few months, allows one to make “micro-level” searches.  For instance, you can search for “my friends that like Lionel Richie” or “my family that visited Peoria.”  These are just a few suggestions, but the options go much much further.  If you have the feature through Facebook, you can try their guided tour here.

In any event, I recently discovered how incredibly useful this can be in job searching.  One of my students was recently interviewing for a position at Dean College.  I decided to search my network to see if I had any connections I could make for him.  I started my search with “friends that went to Dean College.”
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The Bacon Kitty George Takei Star Wars Experience

baconcattekeistarwarsI’m not completely above baiting people with key buzzwords on occasion to get more traffic.  Bacon?  Check.  Cats and Kittens?  Check.  George Takei?  Oh my!  And Star Wars?  What a Wookie.

This semester I had the incredible experience of taking MI621: Social Media for Managers in the Carroll School for Management at Boston College.  I learned a lot through this course, not only about social media itself, but how to teach with it.  The experiences was a bit meta.   One of the questions that frequently reappeared throughout the course, however, was:

What is the definition of social media?

Well, we never did answer this question, but we seemed to have at least defined the dartboard if not the bullseye.  Although when hearing “social media” one often thinks it is a new phenomena ala Facebook or Twitter, in reality I think there are a lot of types of media that are social.  Telephone calls?  Printed media?  Postal mail?   I think so.  They’re slower in some ways, yes, and the means of sharing is often more limited, for sure, but aren’t they perhaps still a form of social media?  People create.  People connect.  People share.
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Ignite!-ing AERA

aphoto49721I’m excited to have been invited to present during a Presidential Session at the American Educational Research Association Conference this coming week in San Francisco, CA.  Many of you may be familiar with my previous work in organizing a PechaKucha session for the ACPA-College Student Educators, International Convention this past spring.  For those of you unfamiliar, PechaKucha is a style of presentation where there are 20 slides, each displayed for 20 seconds, and they are automatically set to advance while the presenter speaks over them.  It is a fun but very challenging presentation style.

Previous posts on PechaKucha:

aeralogoAt AREA I will be presenting in a variant style of PechaKucha known as an “Ignite.”  The only difference between the two is that Ignite presentations only show the slides for 15 seconds each.  The resulting presentation is 5 minutes long instead of 6 minutes and 40 seconds.  The presentation I am doing is a new and improved version of my PechaKucha from ACPA.  It is titled “The Emergence of the Student Cyborg” and is embedded below.  Viewing the slides won’t help you much, as most of the presentation is what is given verbally, but it will at least give you a preview.