How to Make PowerPoint Presentations Interesting

Not only is public speaking nerve-racking, which makes appearing confident difficult, but on top of that, we have to somehow make a PowerPoint presentation interesting. Impossible? Luckily not.
1) Put minimal to no text on the slides. Pictures are your friends!

You are using flash cards as a resource so that you avoid reading off of your PowerPoint. What better way to reinforce that goal than to completely remove the text? In addition, if you have a lot of text on your slides, your audience will be overwhelmed and automatically bored, and if you have minimal text on your slides, your audience will focus on reading it instead of listening to you. The best way to keep your audience engaged and to appear knowledgeable is to include a one to three pictures on each slide that represent what you will talk about; that way, your audience will understand the direction of your slide while also being able to fully listen to what you have to say.

2) Say more than what is on your slides.

Hopefully, you have no text on your slides; however, even if you have a few short bullet points, this point still applies: ALWAYS say more than the words (if any) included on your slides. By doing this, you convey a sense of preparedness. Also, often having ample room (as compared to a digital square) to explain a topic naturally pushes you to write more (include more facts and ideas than would have fit on the slide)–making for a more informative presentation.

3) No white backgrounds.

If you are like me, white backgrounds are your friends because the color white helps you focus on the words and pictures decorating the slide. However, most people are not like this. White backgrounds are boring and often cause people to doze off–so either choose a solid color, a theme, or choose a picture background!

4) Incorporate transitions.

I actually hate this point because I view transitions as “so middle school.” However, transitions animate the presentation and are much more exciting to watch than the split-second switching of slides.

5) Everything is purposeful.

What the heck does this mean? Everything that comes out of your mouth should relate to the topic. Your titles should be short yet meaningful (a theme, person’s name, etc.). The included pictures should directly relate to the main points of that specific slide that you will talk about. There should NOT be an excess of text, pictures, or even what you say. My recommendation is to not talk longer than two minutes on each slide–or you may start to lose your audience!

Here is an example of one of my own PowerPoint slides:

(I used a website called Powtoons.com–as the logo in the bottom right-hand corner shows–and luckily I was able to record my voice instead of present live, but I still wrote a script and followed all the tips!)

2017-05-21

Good luck on your PowerPoint presentation!

Why Schools are Failing at Assigning Books for Students

Authors write for one of three purposes: to entertain, to inform, or to persuade. Schools assign books that inform and persuade–which is great and all–but what about assigning books for ENTERTAINMENT???!! 

Here is why I think entertainment is the most valuable effect of books: I have hated reading all my life. That changed one year ago (I was 16–too old to start to like to read). My english teacher recommended The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James as a book to read for fun. The book was not assigned and not for points or any sort of credit for the class. My friend read it and thought I would like it, so I decided to give it a shot. And what happened? As you probably already guessed, I could not put it down! And, now, after looking back on it, I do not think I ever hated reading; I just hated the genres of books we were reading. But being entertained by this one book inspired me to read books for fun. This will benefit me in the long run by expanding my vocabulary and my mind.

It is one year later, and I am stuck reading books such as Falling Leaves by Adeline Yen Mah, Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut, and Night by Elie Wiesel! Can you say depressing? Yes, reading about memoirs and wars and blah blah blah is important–but why are we only reading about that stuff? No wonder everyone thinks life is hard and the world is evil! Keep some of the books so children learn about the past and about literature, but do not leave out the books that have no purpose at all but to entertain! We know that reading makes you smarter, but the only way to actually get children to read is to make them want to. (Trust me, because that was me.)

And now let us talk about books we read just to learn about a certain time period rather than about literature: Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, for example. One or two books like this should be kept, but the whole english class should not be learning about history! I remember reading Grapes of Wrath at 14 years old and HATING it. It was SO boring to me, and to this day I groan whenever someone mentions it. (Why did you spend a whole chapter describing a turtle crossing the street–NO ONE CARES!!!) I have to say I am proud I suffered through, though, because I was one of probably five students in my class that actually read the book instead of sparknote-ing it. If a book is so boring the students choose not to read it–and these students are honors students–a red flag has to go up in your brain. Connecting history and literature is important, but english teachers should leave most of the history teaching to the history teachers.

Like I have said throughout, keeping these types of books in the curriculum is important. They inform, persuade, and–depending on the person–may even entertain. (The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain is my favorite book!) However, schools need to assign books whose purpose is to entertain so that children grow as students and as people.

How to Pick a Partner in High School

Let us be honest: it is hard to find the right person in high school. I have never had a boyfriend before, but I definitely know some universal qualities that every girl looks for in a guy. Also, I am an outside perspective and that can be really helpful if you are dazed by a guy’s looks–and do not worry about that; it happens to the best of us. Although every guy at your school may seem like a jerk, try to look for these qualities and maybe you will find the right guy for you. Note that I am going to be writing these in steps and not bullet points, so hopefully it is easy for you to follow along. In addition, these are NOT steps on how to get a guy/girl to like you. This is how to pick someone to advance on who is right for you.
1) Look for someone who is frequently around you 
It is scientifically proven that you are more likely to be attracted to someone whom you are around a lot. That goes both ways. But it is also easier to be with someone whom you are around all the time because it does not take a lot of effort to hang out with them, and that is something you absolutely need in a relationship. Maybe this person eats lunch by you every day or is in your math class. It does not matter what it is, as long as there is some (reasonably long) period of time where you two see each other every day or every other day.
2) Observe from afar to decide if he/she meets your standards
Things you may want to look for include: Is he/she kind? Does he/she take school seriously? Does he/she have a good sense of humor? Does he/she drink or smoke? Is he a gentleman/she a lady (in a non-sexist way)? Is he/she friendly? One that I have to ask myself each time because it is so important to me is if he(/she) is mature. But honestly just figure out whatever you need to in order to decide if he/she is a good fit for you. However, I would not advise stalking him/her online or in person.
3) Ask yourself if you are naturally attracted to them
It is okay if you are not. Attraction cannot be forced, but it is easy to convince yourself you like someone if you really want to. You need to really look for someone that is going to best fit your needs but also someone that you are attracted to. That is the whole point of having a relationship: being with someone you are attracted to. So, if you decide he/she is a bad person or you just do not like him/her, go back to step one. There is no problem with that. However, do not immediately dismiss them. Maybe give it a week or two and really see what they are about and you may decide that you really do like him/her. If not, that is okay too.
4) Go for it!
My best advice would be to become friends with them first. That way you can test the waters while you also find out more about them. Sometimes the person on the outside is very different from the person on the inside. Go with your gut and listen to your heart. Good luck!
I hope this helped you in any way, shape, or form. These steps may seem obvious, but some people–like me–like to see or hear them even though we know them already. Others may have no idea where to start. Also remember that everything I write is opinionated and open for discussion if you so desire. One Youtuber that can give you tips and tricks on how to get a guy to like you or how to tell if a guy likes you, etc. is Kimberly Moffit. I highly recommend checking out her channel because she is a certified relationship therapist, a doctor of psychology, and her videos are very helpful. Have a great rest of your day and remember to contact me if you have any questions or requests. Thank you for your time.

 

31 Things I Have Learned From Cross Country

1) It is possible to change bras in front of people without actually being topless.
2) When I think I can go no further, I can.
3) By working my hardest every day, I am helping everybody on the team.
4) My greatest obstacle is myself.
5) Running shoes and inserts are EXPENSIVE, but mandatory.
6) Carbohydrates only kick in after 4 hours of eating them.
7) Some people–whether I know it or not–really look up to me and I need to be an example, always (not just in xc).
8) An abbreviation for “cross country” is “xc.”
9) “PR” is an abbreviation for “personal record.”
10) Everything gets easier with practice.
11) Except hills.
12) Running in the rain is easy if you are blind.
13) Getting up and running at 6 am makes me happier, healthier, and more energized (believe it or not).
14) Coach does not hate you. He pushes you because he knows you can do better.
15) You can do it.
16) Everyone seems to think I am some type of god for running 3-7 miles a day, and I enjoy the shocked looks from people. You should enjoy it. Be proud of yourself.
17) You can always push yourself harder. Training never stops.
18) You are not slow. You are only slow relative to certain people. But that does not mean you are a bad runner or that you are less valuable to the team.
19) Sweating helps cool you off. Even better, if the world ever runs out of the water, you can lick yourself to live (KIDDING).
20) Spandex is REALLY comfortable.
21) I think you just found out what to do with all those t-shirts  you hate/never use.
22) Being a xc runner means owning at least 4 water bottles. (TIP: Get an insulated one)
23) Popsicles motivate me, even though I do not even really like them.
24) Water suddenly tastes better after you run 5 miles through the desert in 90-degree weather.
25) Forget what everyone says–socks are perfect gifts!
26) Sports sunglasses fit weird and look hideous but at least you can see with them.
27) They are not hills; they are inclines.
28) As long as you try your best, you have won.
29) Walking is lame.
30) You do not have to be the fastest runner on the team to be a leader.
31) Do not EVER give up.

12 Things You NEED To Learn In High School

Currently, I am going into my third year of high school, and in my high school experience so far, I have come across many students whom I know will crash and burn in the real world. Of course, I am still a student myself and have not been in the real world yet, but I have been told many things by adults. In addition, I have some wisdom myself and know that, even though I am young, my opinions and views are still valid and people can learn from them. So, here are ten things that within your high school experience you really need to learn in order to thrive in life after school:
1) NO ONE IS AGAINST YOU
As a young adult, still trying to find herself/himself, it is easy to feel outcast, alone, and like no one is on your side. However, it is just the opposite. What you may not realize is that everyone your age feels the exact way that you do. Take me, for example. Every time I think I have it all figured out, something new opens my eyes a little wider and I question everything. But this is all a part of growing up. Other people’s experiences may be different than yours, but they ultimately are the same. There is a reasonable explanation for everything: that smart kid that gets straight A’s studies until he passes out on his bed. That girl that bullies you every day feels alone and does not know how to healthily express her emotions. That teacher that gave you detention only wants you to benefit from the lesson he prepared because he knows it will help determine your future. Your parents only grounded you because they know what it could lead to. I know it is hard to imagine, but if you realize that everyone in your life wants you to succeed, you will be a much happier and cooperative person.
2) HIGH SCHOOL IS NOT SUPPOSED TO PREPARE YOU FOR THE REAL WORLD
I see this one all over social media as well as hear it from my peers constantly: “School is literally pointless. We should be taught how to pay taxes and get a job, not about mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell.” And, yes, while knowing that mitochondria are the powerhouses of the cell will not help you pay taxes in any way, shape, or form, it is that knowledge that will make you ready to enter the real world. When you apply for college, they look for well-rounded students. When you apply for a job, they look for well-rounded people. So what does this mean? It means that you cannot even get hired for a cashier job if you do not know basic math. And let’s say you are laying in the grass on a Saturday and your child asks you what makes the sky blue. Having basic knowledge makes you smart and prepared for most anything. Also, taking basic courses will expose you to things you had never even heard before, and this may lead you to take courses in college  and it may even end up as a future career. You need to give it a chance. Do not know how to do taxes? ASK YOUR PARENTS. THAT IS WHAT THEY ARE THERE FOR. And you know what? My parents pay someone to help them do their taxes–most people do that–so there would be literally no point in school teachers teaching 14 year-olds how to do taxes; it is too complicated. Hopefully, now you can see that high school really is preparing you for the real world and that you just have to take it easy the first 18 years of your life to figure out who you really are and what you want to do.
3) FRESHMAN YEAR MATTERS
Do not fall for what most freshmen do. Colleges may not look at that one C or D or F in a class, but they for sure will look at your overall GPA at the end of high school. And guess what factors into that GPA? That class you got an F in! Freshman year is a time to try things out, adjust, and make mistakes. But do not make the mistake of not studying and not trying. Try to get B’s and up and you can always pick up the slack. Though, of course, I recommend getting straight A’s if that is a possible goal for you; but if not, pick a goal that you know you can pull off. However, always have high expectations for yourself. Be smart and treat freshman year like any other year of school you have ever had, except take it (more) seriously.
4) ARROGANCE IS NOT ATTRACTIVE
I am going to have to try really hard not to go on a rant with this point. Anyway, let me start with the big one that everyone notices at the beginning of their high school career. So, obviously high school is split into upperclassmen and lowerclassmen. Juniors and seniors make up the upperclassmen and freshmen and sophomores make up the lowerclassmen. However, sophomores seem to somehow have put themselves in the category of upperclassmen. DO NOT LIE; you know exactly what I am talking about: Calling the freshmen “fresh meat” and looking at and talking about them as if they are stupid and 6 years old. GUESS WHAT? WE ALL GO TO THE SAME SCHOOL. WHY CAN WE NOT ALL BE FRIENDS? And just let me tell you to all the high schoolers who complain about freshmen being stupid–I know freshmen taking JUNIOR-level classes. In fact, I did that my freshmen year. Maybe some freshmen are arrogant–I will get to that in a second–but you cannot categorize the whole group of incoming freshmen as stupid or rude or arrogant when you have met just a couple ugly faces. Besides, have you ever even talked to them to see if they are stupid? And to all the sophomores who complain about freshmen being stupid–do not lie, I know plenty that do–GROW UP! Freshmen are stupid? You are basically still a freshman! I know that you think you are mature and that you are rolling your eyes right now or agreeing with me and thinking about other people that do this (and maybe you are not like this; I am just addressing the people that do), but that does NOT give you the right to put other people down. In fact, that makes you WEAK. Stop pretending that you are better than everyone else. In the end, we are all just students who attend high school to learn. Every single student at your school deserves the same respect you do, so be a role model down here on Earth.
5) LISTEN TO ADVICE, NO MATTER HOW CLICHE 
This point includes adults–both staff members and adults outside of school–and friends. I think the hardest people to believe sometimes are adults. Let us be honest; they can be really annoying with their talk of “back in the day we didn’t have _______” and such. However, these are the people we really should be listening to. Us teenagers like to think we are mature and already know all of the advice. But we really do not. Adults have much more life experience than teenagers do. They are stable–they have found themselves and are doing with their life what they love. They are only here to guide us if we would just listen. They can see bad things ahead. They can also see good things. They have already gone through high school, so they know how it works. Whether it is studying advice or life advice, high schoolers should listen to adults. And about the cliche advice they give you, why do you think it became cliche? Because it has been used so many times and lead to a positive result! If we move on to friends, this can seem obvious. It is way easier to take a friend’s advice than an adult’s. Your friends are most likely the same age as you or within a couple years of you and are also in high school. Also, because you get to choose your friends, chances are that they understand you fairly well. This probably inclines you to trust them. This is a good thing if they give you good advice–and listen to it–but always be cautious of toxic friends. I could go into a whole lecture about how to tell if your friend is toxic, but the bottom line is that you need to make the judgment for yourself. That goes for their advice too. But be open-minded when you judge it. Overall, just listen to people who want to help you. Whatever advice you have been given was given out of care.
6)  YOUR TEACHERS CARE
I know you probably want to slap me right now, but just hear me out. I will make this short: Teachers went to college for their job, so they WANT to be there. Yes, they may HAVE to be there, but coming to school and planning a lesson for you is a CHOICE. Sometimes teachers need a break, so give them one. And some teachers are just plain bad. Let them be. (Besides, at least they have personality.) It is your job to learn the material and ask questions. Teachers also have to follow the rules. If you have your phone out in class and they take it away and give you detention, do not be mad at them! You deserved it. It is against school policy. But also, you are disrespecting them by not paying full attention. Lastly, everything they do is meaningful. That essay you complained about was meant to strengthen your writing skills. That DBQ was meant to prepare you for the unit test. All in all, just know that your teachers really do care about you and want you to succeed. Do not blame them for things and hate on them outside of class just because you refuse to own up to a mistake or are having a bad day.
7) LAUGH A LOT, BUT NOT AT EVERYTHING
This is your time to have fun, make mistakes, learn from your mistakes, and find yourself. You should laugh and smile and be happy. Nevertheless, you also need to know that everything is not a joke. That D you got on a test? Do not high five your friend next to you that got the same grade, and definitely, do not brag about it. What you need to be doing is figuring out what you got wrong, why, and how to do better next time. That girl that tripped in the hallway and is now super embarrassed? Why are you laughing at her? What you should be doing is asking her if she is okay. Basically what I am trying to say is that you should have fun in your high school years, but you also need to know the boundaries.
8) OPEN YOUR EYES AND PUT OUT YOUR HAND
This point is all about communication skills. (If you would like, I can make a list of some that people need to learn, but I will not go into that for now.) Teenagers seem to have a real problem listening. Sometimes it may be better to be the shy girl in the back of the class. I think observing people helps you learn things about them, about life, and about yourself. Just like I discussed in point #5, we should really take the advice that is given to us. We also really need to use the people around us as a resource. Put your phone away and make eye contact with the person talking to you and whom you are responding to. Also, because we are still finding ourselves, we should be experimenting and finding out what kind of a person we are and what kind of a person we want to be. Furthermore, learn how to give a good handshake. This is very professional and you will definitely do this many times in the future. It is a basic skill and something I wish people did casually when meeting someone–anyone. Basically, just be respectful and use common sense.
9) SUCK IT UP
Now onto something you like hearing: you are in control of your life. You can do whatever you want. With that said, STOP COMPLAINING. Most things are temporary, and teenagers–including myself–tend to constantly blow things out of proportion. Sometimes, though, we really just need to suck it up and push through. A class may be hard, but you should still study and try your best because it is meant to benefit you and to push you to be the best you can be. Sometimes you may get stuck going to a restaurant your friend wants to go to that you absolutely do not. But maybe just this one time you could do something for her. Not because you have to, but because you want to. I think the real meaning behind the expression “suck it up” is change your attitude. Hannah Montana got it right when she said: “life’s what you make it.” Trust me; I learned the hard way.
10) YOU DO NOT NEED TO KNOW WHO YOU ARE, BUT YOU DO NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOUR VALUES ARE
As I have said earlier in this post, high school is a time to figure yourself out. And even if you think you have already figured yourself out, you will come to find that either you are more different to who you are now than you thought or that there is more to you than you thought. Anyway, you are not fully developed yet. This should not scare you, though. You do not need to know who you are in order to make the right decisions. As long as you know what your values are, you will be fine. So what are your values? Know what you look for in a friend. Know what is okay and what is not–what will you tolerate? Know your personal rules–no smoking, drinking, dating, etc. Know what is important to you. If you know all these things and more, you are ready for high school as well as anything else that comes your way.
11) ALWAYS HAVE A GOAL–EVEN IF YOU CHANGE IT
You have probably noticed by now that you cannot sit around and expect things to happen. If you want to get anywhere in life, you have to have a goal. It does not matter how general or specific your goal is, as long as you have an idea of where you want to go. Also, make a plan of how you are going to reach it. Write down the steps to achieve your goal and start right away. If you decide you want something different, start again. But my advice is to always have something you are working toward. Not only is it good for you and your character, but it sets you up for a bright future.
12) YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL AND THE WORLD SHOULD KNOW IT
I may be a teenage girl who has never worn makeup–and has no interest to–but just like everyone else, I have struggled with self-image. In fact, I still do to this day. In this society, we are told what beauty is supposed to look like, and since no one fits into that category, everyone feels ugly. For me, my struggle has been my acne. Starting around when I turned 13, I all of a sudden got really bad acne. It was mostly on my forehead but also on my nose and chin. I tried so many different products and they all did zilch. Eventually, I got annoyed and picked them and now I have scars on my forehead (updated–they are fading!). I would always feel embarrassed to talk to people, thinking they were staring at my forehead. I even had a girl literally come up to me, address my acne, and then proceed to act disgusted by it. (She was just rude so whatever.) The fact was that I just had to accept my acne and not let it define me. What is on the inside really is the only thing that matters. Just think, how do you pick out your friends? Because, just a note, I know NOBODY that picks out their friends based on their skin condition or hair color. You can feel confident with no makeup on or with acne or with whatever struggle you have. Once you overcome it, you can truly feel beautiful. And you know what? If people ask you if you think you are pretty, you should say yes. There is nothing wrong with that. You are NOT self-centered for loving yourself, and anyone who says otherwise can answer to me;)
Please feel free to email me @free.element.monique.blog@gmail.com with any questions you may have or comment below. Also, if you have any requests for future posts, make sure to send them to me and I will definitely consider. 
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