The art of communicating … collaboratively

Audience. Audience.

Do you know your … audience?

When you’re crafting your message within a medium, how deeply is the audience considered?

This message was at the heart of our focus for our learning this week for COETAIL course 3, week 4.

Less is more

The content and readings always led to this guiding precept – less is more when presenting media to an audience.

Some key takeaways:

  • Powerful, yet simplistic visuals.
  • Less text.
  • Compose like a photographer / graphic designer.
  • Let the visual be the cue to the conversation.

The task

To ground our learning in authenticity, we were asked to redesign a piece of media and seek out feedback to improve it.

Recently, I was asked to co-lead a keynote for an upcoming conference within the organization that owns my school.

Thus, the slide deck presentation will be the example I will talk through below.

The beginning

The conference’s theme, in a nutshell, is about purposeful EdTech integration.

After meeting with my co-presenter and a key organizer from corporate last week, we began our rough brainstorm.

More meetings – more clarity

This week, a more pivotal meeting was held with the majority of presenters and organizers. The meeting offered us a few more guiding directives from the corporation, giving more ideas and direction.

This led to the design of an initial slide deck.

Whilst it’s important, at this stage, to flesh out your thoughts in what you wish to communicate, you must remember not to leave the slides this way.

Thankfully, my co-lead and I are no strangers to these lessons.

The pictures below illustrate our “fleshing out” of ideas, yet we both knew that the slides were in definite need of some “design love”.

Style guide: We asked – they delivered!

Since this was a more corporate-level conference, my co-lead and I wanted to be sure that our communicative message fit the marketing style of the company’s brand.

Our audience is the educators working within schools guided by the mission and vision of this company.

The organization’s lead for this conference provided this style guide below, which was extremely helpful.

Moving forward in collaboration

My presentation partner and I decided to design in Google Slides. The medium makes it simple to not only design in a way to offer maximum creative freedom, but it also offers some key features tailored well to this task.

Best “fit” features of Google Slides for this task:

  • Easy to tag and assign feedback to all necessary stakeholders
  • Internal chat for simple collaboration
  • Simple use of HEX codes to assign colours to match the style guide above
  • Optional add-on features, like my favourite from FlatIcon

After a very productive week, and several feedback loops, my partner and I are getting closer to a finished product.

Final reflections

To be honest, the readings this week weren’t anything new to me.

That is, however, where I am after decades of lifelong learning. Some of these learning experiences include a Master’s in Educational Technology, several certifications and countless collaborative learning conferences.

I do respect that many may not be there yet, in terms of their knowledge and understanding of this timeless concept.

The resources shared this week did review some excellent tips and guiding principles.

More on style guides

Did you know that most media is designed with about five to seven colours, black and white included?

Here are some of my favourite tips and resources when designing.

  • Start with one great image or visual that best suits your message; even better if it’s your own!
  • What colours are represented in that? Match it!
  • Not sure how to match the colours? No problem, Canva‘s got you covered!
  • If you want a bit more support for which colours to choose, Coolors and Adobe have your back, too.
  • Doug Taylor (WAB), also has some great tips offered here. I’ve included one of his awesome “Tips” posters below.

How about you, dear reader?

  • Have any “gold” design tips up your sleeve?
  • What medium do you love to design in most?
  • Any other tips you could share with a design nerd like me? 🤓
Image from Presentation Load

One Reply to “The art of communicating … collaboratively”

  1. Hi Justin!

    It was very cool to learn more about your research and design process for this presentation. I especially liked seeing your planning doc with your partner where you talk about who is going to do what. It’s so easy to collaborate with others these days using digital tools. I liked how you got the color palette from the workshop organizers too:)

    Your post also gave me a good refresher/reminder about the SAMR model and the PIC-RAT model too. I was just thinking about my own COETAIL journey and how my teaching is transforming as a result of learning more about #edtech.

    In the “10 tips for Improving Your Presentations Today” (Presentation Zen) video, See here
    Garr Reynolds talks about ideating on pencil and paper before going to the computer. What do you think about that? When you are getting ready to create a presentation, do you go straight to the laptop? Or do you do some sort of analog brainstorming/concept mapping first?

    When is the presentation? Have you done it yet? When you do give it, I would love some feedback about how it went and how the audience perceived it! Good luck if it’s coming up soon…

    Overall, nice job using Design Thinking to help you with your presentation preparation process. I really enjoy learning from you and gleaning insight from your expertise in this area!


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