As part of the American Evaluation Association’s Potent Presentations Initiative, I’ve been asking people to think about some of the most effective presentations they’ve seen (conference presentations, grad school classes, webinars, you name it).

I hope you enjoy reading Mika Yoder Yamashita’s explanation about the best presentation she’s seen. Mika’s my evaluation friend from the Washington Evaluators, and the best presentation she’s seen was a systems dynamics presentation at the Stevens Institute.

— Ann Emery


“The best presentation I saw was a presentation by a professor at Stevens Institute, and it was a quick walk through of systems dynamics (a part of systems thinking).  It was 20 minutes (and the presenter mentioned at the beginning that he would be talking for 20 minutes).   There are a couple of factors that I think made me to think this presentation was great.

First, there was a kind of book reading assignment.  The presentation happened as a part of a book club meeting.

Second, the book was difficult to me.  I did not read deep into systems dynamics before beyond Sociology 101 class, so it took a lot of my brain to go through the book.

When the presenter made the overall argument in the theory into a  concise diagram, I thought “we are seeing the same thing.” Yes, the presentation lost some details, and because it was simplified, I am sure the message was open to interpretation.

The purpose of the presentation was not to convey the same message. It was a warm up or quick introduction to a discussion.

Of course,  we could see the diagrams projected on the wall, and the presenter used probably 10 slides or less.   I do not remember if there was a handout, but since the presenter walked us through the diagrams, no need to read a handout.”

— Mika Yoder Yamashita