Tampa English Tutor’s Helpful Hints for Making PowerPoint Presentations

Posted on 16th December 2009 in Tampa English Tutor

If you have been assigned a PowerPoint presentation, here are a few tips.

Tip #1:  Don’t Read to Me

Few things are worse than a presentation in which the speaker reads his or her slides to the audience. Put key points on the slides and elaborate on them as you give your presentation.


Palace Theatre image


http://www.flickr.com/photos/35188692@N00/ / CC BY 2.0
Image created by Eye of Einstein.

Tip #2:  Don’t Get Too Fancy

Don’t let the PowerPoint overshadow your presentation. In other words, you can add lots of special effects if you are a proficient PowerPoint user. Before you do, ask yourself how much they contribute to getting your message across.

Tip #3:  Choose a Readable Font

Although some fonts look great on a PC, they are not easy for an audience to read on a screen.  Stick with a simple font. If you can make a dry run using the equipment that you will present with, you should. Ask a classmate to stand in the back row and assess how well your slides work.

Tip #4:  Don’t Pick a Background Color that Blends with the Text

Dark grey letters on a black background isn’t such a good idea. In addition to using elements that contrast, you need to think about your audience and how they will experience the presentation. Even if you are doing a presentation about Christmas, don’t do a red background and green letters.

Tip #5:  Use Pictures and Visual Aids

If you are presenting information that is easier to grasp as a table or bar graph or chart, you should present it that way. Free photo sites, such as Flickr, allow you to find Creative Commons licensed photos by keyword. By choosing Attribution Only images and using proper attribution, you can avoid any problems that may arise from using other people’s photos without permission.

Tip #6:  Practice for Perfection

Practicing the PowerPoint presentation will help you find errors, fix unreadable elements, and solve any technical difficulties that may occur. Of course, you should pruf red yur slids. Typos are hard to miss when they are projected on a 10’ screen.

Eric Anderson is a private English Tutor serving New Tampa, Carrollwood, Temple Terrace and the USF area. He tutors English and history for students from 6th grade to college. Reach Eric at 813.787.8959 or at tampatutor at tampa bay dot rr dot com.

Tampa English Tutor Essay Writing Hint

Posted on 19th May 2009 in Tampa English Tutor

To accomplished writers, this Tampa English Tutor tip is second nature. However, this week, I had a tutoring session with a beginning writer working on an essay written in response to a prompt.

While I don’t recall the particulars of the prompt, it had two parts and the answer to the first part was required before the second part could be answered.

Photo by Mrs. Logic of the barter bookshop in the old Alnwick rail station. See more of Mrs. Logic's photos on Flickr. Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Only license. Looks like a cozy spot to do some Tampa English tutoring!

When we sat down to review this student’s paper, she had started reasonably well, but then wandered from the first part of the prompt into a personal reaction to the story that paper was about.

In certain cases, her observations could have been used to make a point that would have answered a portion of the prompt, but she had lost sight of the key parts of the prompt she was trying to address.

Together we divided the prompt into two parts and turned each question into a statement that took a clear position based upon this student’s reading of the work. She then reviewed her essay and could see that much of the beginning of her essay applied to the second part of the question. She also recognized that a good portion of her first draft was not answering any part of the prompt.

It’s basic, but it’s well worth doing to break down a writing prompt into its parts and then start by turning the question into a strong statement of position if the prompt is a persuasive one.

She had written her draft on the eve of the due date, which did not give her the time to create a truly outstanding piece of writing, but revising it once made it much stronger and probably turned a D or an F into at least a C or a B.

By creating statements that took a clear position on both parts of the prompt, she was able to see what was relevant and what could be cut. We then discussed the evidence from the work and made revisions and additions that used her best points first and last where they would stay with the reader.
It’s easy to wander from the issue when you are writing, so always re-read your finished work and ask yourself: “Have I answered all the parts of the prompt?” Sometimes the answer will make revision of your paper much simpler.

If you are a college or high school student who would like to improve your writing, contact Tampa English Tutor Eric Anderson at 813.787.8959  for one-on-one essay writing help.

Posted by Tampa English Tutor at 5/19/2009 10:33 PM



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Tampa SAT Tutor Hints for Sentence Completion Questions

Posted on 12th May 2009 in Tampa SAT Preparation

As a Tampa SAT tutor, I can empathize with students who feel anxious about taking the SAT. With less than stellar high school grades, I was anxious about the exam when I took it back in the Mesolithic Era.

The verbal portion of the SAT still has sentence completion questions that test vocabulary and ability to decipher context clues.

If you are struggling with sentence completions, do not despair. By working on improving your vocabulary and attacking sentence completion questions on the SAT systematically, you can dramatically improve your SAT score.

To improve your vocabulary, you should study lists of high frequency SAT words that can be found in almost every SAT prep guide. If you have sufficient time before you take your SAT, you should consider getting a series of vocabulary building books and doing a few exercises every day.

Photo of the Jefferson Monument by Tony the Misfit. Photo licensed under Creative Commons Attribution Only. See more of Tony's excellent photographs in his Flickr photostream. He has some superb Jefferson quotations that accompany this particular shot.)

series that I like is Vocabulary from Classic Roots by Nancy Fiefer. These books are very helpful because they teach words in related clusters and teach them using the Latin and Greek roots. Learning word roots can really boost your SAT because roots give you a basis for intelligently inferring word meanings.

Here is an approach to SAT sentence completion questions:

  1. Read the sentence without looking at the answer choices and fill in a word that you think may fit.
  2. Look for a word with the same or a very similar meaning from the list of choices. If you are lucky, the word you think of will be in the answer choices.
  3. Test out the words to see which ones are possible and eliminate any answers that don’t fit.
  4. If it is a double completion question, examine the connection between the blanks. Does the sentence suggest contrast? Does it use words such as although, but, or nevertheless? Does the sentence suggest that the words that fit the blanks are similar in meaning? Does it use words such as similarly, in the same way, or likewise?
  5. Look for word roots, prefixes and suffixes to get a clue as to meaning.
  6. If you can eliminate at least one answer, guess.

SAT sentence completion questions are generally arranged roughly in order of difficulty, so do not agonize over the last one or two in a set. Do the best that you can, use process of elimination, and guess from the remaining choices – so long as you can eliminate at least one choice.

For those with sufficient time before the SAT, the best preparation for sentence completions is to read widely and actively. Assignments in an IB or AP curriculum should expose you to an abundance of college level reading. If you want to succeed at sentence completions, don’t skip unfamiliar words. Look them up on Dictionary.com or in a good college dictionary.

You can pick up lots of new words from reading Joseph Conrad or Charles Dickens if you invest the time to learn the words that are unfamiliar to you when you encounter them on the page. Call Tampa English Tutor Eric Anderson at 813.787.8959 if you would like private SAT Tutoring in Tampa, FL.

Posted by Tampa English Tutor at 5/12/2009 12:25 AM