The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences

MLDP Recap: Presentation Design for the User Experience with Dave Uejio

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The Management and Leadership Development Program (MLDP) is a one-term program designed to develop citizen leaders among sophomores, juniors, and seniors at Dartmouth College. Led by expert guest speakers each week, sessions employ experiential teaching techniques to engage students through hands-on learning of core management and leadership skills.

Conveying information is critical in our knowledge economy. While some of us as college students take pride in our ability to crunch out twelve-page, APA-style papers in a single evening, communication of information in the workplace often takes on a different form: the presentation.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau's Dave Uejio educates MLDP participants on presentation design. Photo by Hung Nguyen '18.

For Dave Uejio of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, presentation design is a subjective craft with an objective goal. Although not all presentations need be engaging, record-high quarterly profits, for instance, is excellent news no matter how dryly it is presented, Uejio noted in jest that public-sector work is often both "fundamentally important and mind-numbingly boring." The challenge, then, is to present information in a way that minimizes audience pain while getting the message across. Or, in Uejio’s original words, "in a way that doesn’t offend your sensibilities."

Drawing from his experience in federal government, consulting, and the public sector, Uejio emphasized the importance of structure and style. While the former can be objectively achieved by sketching a storyboard to narrate one’s presentation loop, the latter is subject to personal interpretation and finesse. This means that oft-overlooked details like font choice, color scheme, and capitalization consistency each warrant a conscious decision.

MLDP participants learn how to design engaging presentations in a recent session. Photo by Hung Nguyen '18.

As someone who is personally guilty of constructing the "Great Wall of Text" in past PowerPoint slides, I walked away from this session with many new appreciations for the art of presentation design. For one, I am now developing an eye for data visualization and how best to convey information in a digestible format. For another, I will be more compassionate toward my classmates in the future as I strive to design more engaging presentations. Indeed, for those who aspire to careers for the common good, perhaps one immediate way we can contribute to the betterment of society is simply by inflicting less tedious PowerPoint slides on our classmates.

-Written by Ke Zhao '17, Spring 2015 MLDP Participant

The Nelson A. Rockefeller Center for Public Policy and the Social Sciences