Use the Assertion-Evidence Structure for a Better Presentation

For more than a decade, researchers in the academic field of communications studies have looked at how people learn and tried to identify the best way to relate complex information, especially of a scientific or engineering nature. Dr. Michael Alley, a professor at Pennsylvania State Univerisity and author of The Craft of Scientific Presentations, developed a presentation style called the Assertion-Evidence Structure or AES.

In AES, rather than use bullet points following the topic/subtopics structure (blech!) and a vague presentation title across the top of every slide, Dr. Alley posits using an assertion at the top of each slide and a visual that supports the assertion. This technique not only makes your message very clear for the audience, the process involved in creating the presentation clarifies your message for you too, which means you’re better prepared when you make your presentation.

Although developed for the scientific community, the basis and style of the assertion-evidence structure lends itself to many types of presentations.

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