Two of my students at the FOM Hochschule, Hannah and Marisa, have very kindly agreed to allow their short presentation to be used for training purposes. Here, their presentation on the importance of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) in digital design has been divided into a series of short extracts and commented on as a way of showing how presenting in a virtual environment can be effective and enjoyable.
The opening is relaxed and friendly and is delivered in a style that is appropriate for the context and audience of class colleagues. It’s worth noting how the audience is acknowledged and how a reference is made to the virtual setting. Notice too, how the outline of the talk keeps to the KISS (Keep it short and simple) principle and, given the tight time limit, is appropriately brief.
2. Make clear the benefits
The ‘introduction’ that follows succinctly establishes the importance of the topic by indicating its importance in two very diverse industries (food & pharmaceuticals) and then makes very clear what the aim of the talk is and how it will be of benefit to those present.
3. Being well-prepared
Hannah makes simple but effective use of the virtual environment to effectively combine the following media elements:
- attractively designed, easy to read slides with text and good quality images
- two short videos
- clear commentary.
With an added touch of humour, the combination effectively illustrates the difference between UI and UX, and the multi-media, illustrative sequence used to do so is delivered at a pace that allows the audience to follow, enjoy and absorb the message.
Also of note is Hannah’s well-paced, natural-sounding delivery and the command she has over both the topic and the media she is using. This is clearly the result of good preparation and practice that has given her a good understanding of the subject and the confidence to use the virtual room effectively. There are, of course, some language errors, but these are minor and, most importantly, Hannah communicates the ideas successfully.
4. Combining sensory channels
Hannah picks up on the user experience humorously illustrated in the video showing passengers enjoying their ride in a Tesla car, and using the same kind of visual and auditory channel combination used in conventional in-person presentations, she further defines it and, after directing the audience to the slide (‘look at the (sic) bubble’), she explains its ‘sub-disciplines’.!
One problem here is that the font size of some of the text is too small to be clearly read.
Animating the ‘sub-disciplines’ texts so that their appearance coincides with the speaker’s reference to them could also have been an option.
5. Making it relevant
Hannah now shows how the topic is of personal relevance for the audience members by asking simple questions about their own use of the online digital platforms Google and Amazon.
To do this, she makes use of the text chat window. This feature of the virtual environment is easy to use and provides a quick vehicle for audience involvement. It also allows for a quick change of pace and focus.
Notice how the flow is maintained because the questions require short, one-word answers.
The handover to the next speaker is also elegantly accomplished with the simple questions “Marisa can you explain?”
6. Explaining with examples
Marisa takes over and provides the answers and the reason why ‘convenience’ (an important element in the user experience) has become a ‘key’ factor in successful digital marketing.
She maintains the flow with a series of well-chosen e-commerce examples using slides that combine appealing images with a minimum but impactful use of text.
This segment concludes with a visual representation of UI and UX using the metaphor of an iceberg to explain how UI and UX are interrelated.
Like Hannah, Marisa is clearly well prepared and is able to speak fluently and, importantly, the message is clear and delivered at a pace that can be easily followed. Again, there are some language errors and minor issues with pronunciation, but the delivery is animated and dynamic, which counts for more in terms of effective communication.
Paralinguistics are just as important when presenting online as they are offline and Marisa’s obvious enthusiasm for the topic and enjoyment of the opportunity to share what she has prepared is transmitted to the audience and helps makes the potentially dry virtual environment an enjoyable space for everyone to be in.
7. Testing & fun!
The interactivity between the speakers and the audience continues with a series of quick-fire questions that combine the use of
- slides with images and minimum text
- text chat
- voice, with Hannah’s simple instructions and responses to the answers.
Notice how the most challenging question is left to last so that Hannah can step in with an explanation.
The quiz has the serious purpose of consolidating everyone’s understanding of the topic, but it is also clearly fun and provides us with a good example of how the online environment can be relaxed and enjoyable if entered into with the right frame of mind.
8. Takeaways & calls to action
The short presentation is brought to a satisfying conclusion with a summary of some of the main points. More importantly, however, these are packaged as takeaways that the audience are directed to “take with you and perhaps spread (sic) it in your company” and as such they act as a call to action which motivates the audience members to take on board what they’ve just heard, seen and participated in and act on it.
The ‘takeaways’ texts are animated so that their appearance coincides with the speaker’s reference to them. An extra element of dynamism and interest is added by the speakers taking it in turns to explain each of them.!
One problem here is that the font size used for each takeaway is a little too small to be easily read.
The visual impact of the yin and yang symbol brings home the point one last time with a slide that again combines a strong visual impact with a minimum but effective use of text.
9. Keeping focussed
One reason for the success of this short presentation is the speakers’ decision to focus on one main topic rather than a series of related topics. They introduce their topic, define it, give examples of it, relate it to the audience, test the audience’s understanding of it, summarise its main points, explain it again and provide a memorable image so that the audience will retain what they have been told.
As these notes I hope have made clear, there is much to commend in the presentation, not least of which is the students’ willingness to embrace the environment they were obliged to use and, rather than being overwhelmed or inhibited by having to present in the virtual space, they “accepted the challenge” and set about using the possibilities it offered them to engage and involve their audience of fellow marketing and digital media students in an informative, simply but well-constructed and highly relevant 10-minute presentation.
Well done indeed, Hannah and Marisa!