Gathering information that will make up the content in your presentation has gotten easier and faster with the Internet. But making sure that information is factual and objective has gotten a lot harder. No one wants to look foolish presenting incorrect content, or even worse, tarnishing their credibility. So, while you are researching and writing, make sure you are also fact checking your own presentation.
Researchers at Stanford Graduate School of Education did a study that tested how well students could tell the difference between a real news article, and a sponsored news article. They found that middle and high school students had trouble telling the difference. Students were unable to determine why they would not believe the article based on who wrote it and evidence that the article was sponsored.
The topic of “fake news” came to a head during the 2016 presidential election. Stanford also looked into that to see if the spread of fake news articles on social media had any implications on the election. They surveyed 1,200 American voters, of those 14% said social media was their news source for the election. In the 3 months leading up to the election, pro-Donald Trump stories that contained baseless claims were shared 30 million times on social media. Pro-Clinton stories of the same nature were shared only 7.6 million times. The study found a single fake news article would have to have the same persuasive effect as 36 television campaign ad. Stanford researchers determined that fake news did not sway the election, but did not that social media is playing a more important role in the election process.
So how you can make sure you don’t get tricked into believing fake news?
Give the article a close read through and look for named sources. If the article simply states, “sources say…” before detailing an event, there is no way to know where the author got that information from. You should find another article that does quote an authority on the matter to back up the claims. Same goes for actual quotes. If a safe practice to do a quick Google search on statements from real people to make sure it was actually said and not taken out of context.
With more online publications coming into circulation, many of the authors and organizations behind them are turning out false or biased information. Make sure you are pulling information from a legitimate news organization before including it in the presentation. An Internet search is a quick and helpful way to learning about the reputations and credibility of online publications.
Sometimes you might find the perfect article to back up your main points for your presentation. But after you have written everything based on this article, you come to learn that it was written almost ten years ago. The first thing to check before you spend your time reading and writing is the timestamp. This is normally listed near the author’s name. Make sure your information is relevant and up-to-date for your presentation.
There are many other steps you can take to fact check your presentation. Including making sure the domain name looks authentic, and watch out for confirmation bias. Do not waste valuable time working on a presentation that has incorrect information, this will only create bigger problems down the road.
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