Ideas for alternative, creative ways of inputs - PPT-free workshops

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Original Message

From: Nadia von Holzen, posted on 2013/07/01

Dear all,

I am pulling together a list of creative ways of delivering inputs. I am supporting the organisation of face-to-face workshops (from 2-hour sessions to 3-4 days). On the agenda I often see PowerPoint presentations... PowerPoints are still the most loved format to deliver inputs...

I would like too see more engaging and interactive activities than PPT. I was pleased to read:

km4dev Seattle No PowerPoint facilities, the spirit of the gathering is participation vs straight "presentation." wiki.km4dev.org/Here WE know some of you need clarity on your ability to "present" for your sponsor/organization. If you commit to offering an Open Space session, that is our equivalent of a "presentation." However, we remind you that there will be no PowerPoint facilities and the spirit of the gathering is participation vs straight "presentation." All in the spirit of knowledge sharing and learning. So plan accordingly!

This made me "sing" (even though I won't be able to join the Seattle meeting). I decided to prepare a list with alternative approaches to "make inputs".

So what are your favourite alternative and creative way of bringing in content/ expertise?

Here my list, please add!

  • Open Space Sessions: the burning question first...
  • Circles/ Knowledge cafe/ World cafe
  • Master Classes: make the master first listening to the questions of the group, then start a discussion...
  • Fish Bowl discussions, e v. start with interviewing in the fish bowl 'the expert', then open the circle...
  • Market with posters, laptop presentations etc.
  • Interviews
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Storytelling
  • Learning Journey, Sensing Journey
  • Naked Presentations (inspired by Garr Reynolds)

I am curious!

Contributors

All replies in full are available in the discussion page. Contributions received with thanks from:

Arthur Shelley
Calvin Minfegue Assouga
Eva Schiffer
Ewen Le Borgne
Hannah Beardon
Johannes Schunter
Josef Hofer-Alfeis
Lucie Lamoureux
Molly Hamm
Nancy White
Paul Corney
Paul Mundy
Pete Cranston
Siham Rashid
Tony Ghaye

Related Discussions

The problem with ppt

  • What really ruins ppts is not being clear in your mind what you want people to know, or more to the point, what you want them to DO after listening to you. The problem I think is the use of a presentation tool before truly using the brain to understand the issue at hand. (Tony Prior)
  • The trouble are bad PowerPoints: poor quality, too many slides fully packed, lost in details, not visual, timing not respected... (many voices)
  • The 2nd problem: presenters hiding behind the slides. "There is a lot of comfort in those decks." (Lucie)


The way forward with ppt

For the presenters:

  • prepare the slides well; well-crafted and well dosed (Johannes)
  • present with skill, "drama, clarity and use of time" (...) "fit into the time but also designed it to stimulate and allow discussion" (Pete)
  • “It’s about the audience as much as the presenter“ (Paul Corney)
  • “The slides are there for the audience, not the speaker.” (Arthur)
  • Designing high quality PowerPoint presentations that incorporate principles of good slide design, storytelling, data visualization, etc; resources by the American Evaluation Association: Potent Presentations Initiative: http://p2i.eval.org/index.php/p2i-tools/ (Molly)
  • A competent professional provides appropriate support materials FOR THE AUDIENCE. They should not rely on the support material for themselves. (Arthur)
  • At the end of the day, I think it's best to pretend you are on a desert island and will be talking to people who have never heard of electricity, or powerpoints. (Arthur)


For the facilitators:

  • Deal with presenters: what's their "attitude and approach" (Eva)
  • We “linked facilitators and presenters in advance so we could talk through options." (Pete)
  • ppt is a helping/ supporting tool (Siham, Calvin); we have to change the practice and not the tool. “Help the people that use it badly (Ewen)
  • Use ppt alternatively; use ppt to present in different ways; more interactive (Ewen). The facilitator/ presenter are the “master of the game”; “ use ppt in a linear "way" during a workshop can be heavy and boring” (Clavin)
  • Video and audio to break the flow (Paul Corney)
  • what is really important (a la our KM principles) is the dialogue between peers that then ensues. We often don't focus on that dialogue (and therefore often give it far less time, and heft, than it deserves), plus we often disseminate the ppt, or the prezi, but not the discussion around it. (Tony Pryor)


The advantages of ppt

  • "support for nervous speakers and visual stimulation and reinforcement" (Paul Mundy)
  • Facilitate documentation, "useful for the report" (Pete)
  • Visuals are helpful; for visual learner (Siham)
  • PPT are great support especially when the audience language is different. Invest in briefing the translator (Paul Corney; Hannah)
  • as a scaffold for their own notes, so they can listen more effectively to what is being said (Arthur).


The alternatives:

  • "To me, the key to making people feel better about leaving the slides behind is facilitation. And prior to the session, it's good for the facilitator to have a talk with them to see what key points they want to raise and gently leading them during the session to doing so." (Lucie)
  • "variations on speed-geeking/marketplace formats also work well, where 'presenters' have 60 secs to pitch in plenary - so everyone knows what's in the room, and then participants spend time (15-20 mins) with two or three of the presenters in turn, allowing them to question and discuss in smaller groups." (Pete)
  • Printed posters or prepare flip charts (Eva)
  • Engage around an issues Net-Map: http://netmap.wordpress.com (Eva)
  • Chat (or Talk) Show: http://www.kstoolkit.org/Chat+Shows (Lucie)
  • BarCamp or UnConference (e.g. KnowledgeCamp, Germany): impulse presentation (with or without PPT) and moderation of the following discussion. The audience decides by acclamation, if he/she gets one. (Josef)
  • Pecha-Kucha: only 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PechaKucha (Josef)
  • Ignite (Johannes, Nancy) hand drawn visuals for an Ignite presentations http://www.fullcirc.com/2013/06/29/igniteseattle21-s-is-it-time-to-think-about-a-legacy/
  • Prezi (Tony, Johannes) “you can zoom in and out of build structures, and create a bigger pictures that adds context to individual slides.” (Johannes)


  • Open Space Sessions: the burning question first...
  • Circles/ Knowledge cafe/ World cafe
  • Master Classes: make the master first listening to the questions of the group, then start a discussion...
  • Fish Bowl discussions, e v. start with interviewing in the fish bowl 'the expert', then open the circle...
  • Market with posters, laptop presentations etc.
  • Interviews
  • Appreciative Inquiry
  • Storytelling
  • Learning Journey, Sensing Journey
  • Naked Presentations (inspired by Garr Reynolds, presentationzen)


Conclusion

  • Presenter: be the presenter presenting (with or without PowerPoint)
  • Facilitator: support presenters to deliver a good presentation
  • All: Presenting is about listening as well


Contributions


Arthur Shelley: Well stated Hannah! A competent professional provides appropriate support materials FOR THE AUDIENCE. They should not rely on the support material for themselves. Optimal use is to assist the audience follow the flow and to have something to refer back to later when reflecting on what was stated (as a scaffold for their own notes, so they can listen more effectively to what is being said).


Hannah Beardon: On the issue of powerpoint, I do get where the anti-argument comes from, but I agree with the comments that it is not the ppt that is the problem – but the quality of the storytelling itself. I once attended an international conference (in English) where powerpoint was banned, and people who were not confident or skilled presenters ended up reading from their notes instead. We had nothing to focus on, and help us keep track with the presenter, and my Colombian colleague found it incredibly difficult to follow without a visual/ text aid.


Tony Pryor: Going with the flow of this discussion, I do agree that the problem is not necessarily the medium but the lack, or fuzziness, of the message (so to speak). What really ruins ppts is not being clear in your mind what you want people to know, or more to the point, what you want them to DO after listening to you. The problem I think is the use of a presentation tool before truly using the brain to understand the issue at hand. (And of course this doesn't apply just to presentation apps; one can make the argument that the worst thing ever to happen to logical, cogent explication is the invention of the cut and paste function in word processing, but I digress...:)). I have to say that Prezi and other novel applications also have risks; they do raise the ooh aah factor, and in the case of Prezi they actually can help the person doing the presentation to think more logically about the subject matter, but it can also lead to people more entranced by the technology than by the meaning of the words themselves. And I will raise my hand as being guilty of over-choreographing ppts via fade-ins/outs, music, etc etc. At the end of the day, I think it's best to pretend you are on a desert island and will be talking to people who have never heard of electricity, or powerpoints. I also think that what is really important (a la our KM principles) is the dialogue between peers that then ensues. We often don't focus on that dialogue (and therefore often give it far less time, and heft, than it deserves), plus we often disseminate the ppt, or the prezi, but not the discussion around it. I have to say that's why, as a techno luddite (Stacey Y always says "Tony loves technology but technology doesn't love him...") Adobe Connect or things like it can be amazing tools. I know I posted this example before but if you haven't seen it, notice how people responding to this quite decent ppt presentation take the conversation in new directions the presenter never expected. And of course what's really neat is that this discussion is what has been captured for others, not just the ppt. https://ac.usaid.gov/p98631577/


Eric Mullerbeck: I too feel the same as Johannes, Pete and Paul. One advantage of well-prepared PPTs is the takeway -- the slide deck itself, which does not seem to be possible in the same way with Prezi. There is surely a role for Prezi as well but it is not identical. I am relieved to hear that Johannes also has learned more from well-prepared classroom experiences than from group discussions...I thought I was the only one, and felt a little bit of 'peer pressure' to conform despite the facts of my own experience!


Nancy White: Well Johannes, thanks for the mention. In fact I recently used hand drawn visuals for an Ignite presentation. http://www.fullcirc.com/2013/06/29/igniteseattle21-s-is-it-time-to-think-about-a-legacy/


Johannes Schunter: I agree with Pete and Paul. Well-crafted and well-dosed PPT can be a great thing, and I benefited a lot from speakers who used them well. (Btw, I also learned the most from well-prepared teachers in classroom setups rather than group discussions, despite the trend of the last decade to favor the latter). Prezi can be a nice alternative to Powerpoint. However, only if it is NOT used as you would normally use a Powerpoint, meaning, not designing the presentation as sequential bullet point slides. The power of Prezi is that you can zoom in and out of build structures, and create a bigger pictures that adds context to individual slides. Difficult to explain when you haven't seen it in action. A bit like Nancy's graphic facilitation artworks in presentation form :)


Josef Hofer-Alfeis: I would like to add a special way of presenting PPT, which is favored by some people in one of my client’s units, called pecha-kucha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PechaKucha): roughly speaking it means only 20 slides and 20 seconds per slide. There are even special public events called pecha-kucha-nights with a lot of such dense but short presentations around a theme.


Ewen Le Borgne: I agree with Paul and I've had kind of enough of 'down with Powerpoint'. Don't blame the medium, help the people that use it badly. We tend to be obsessed with tools in KM, but tools are the easy part (though they're not all easy to use). Changing our and other peoples' practices, which I think is at the core of KM's challenges, is much more difficult and should be our focus. As much as I love no-PPT zones in e.g. KM4Dev meetings because I know they will stimulate everyone's creativity, a more valuable approach to banning PPTs could be to look together with the presenter (before and after the event) how Powerpoint is used as a tool and how it could be used alternatively - and for what purpose. More recent -and very speedy- formats of PPT presentations like Ignite or PechaKucha (and also other tools like Prezi, Slides) remove a lot of the classic criticisms of PPTs and they do what PPT should help us do: tell a compelling story that stimulates new ideas... For telling a story and adding content that fuels a collective conversations, we sometimes also need information that presentations are very good at bringing. So in essence: a) PPTs are not the enemy but bad use of it is b) we can reflect together how to use PPTs to present information in different ways c) we can also reflect on using PPTs in much more interactive ways d) it all depends on the purpose and as inputs/teasers/starters for conversations presentations can still be great and e) as you all pointed out there's a wealth of alternatives to presentations also... Let's think creatively also about how we think about presentation and facilitation :) or we fall in the trap of straitjacketing that we are critical about when using, in this case, PPT...


Molly Hamm: I also agree that it is not PowerPoint presentations in and of themselves that are dangerous, but rather the common misuse of PowerPoint by presenters. The American Evaluation Association has excellent resources on designing high quality PowerPoint presentations that incorporate principles of good slide design, storytelling, data visualization, etc. Check out the Potent Presentations Initiative for free tools and resources: http://p2i.eval.org/index.php/p2i-tools/


Calvin Minfegue Assouga: i also agree with all this comments.

  • Ppt is a great support tool during a presentation specifically its charts, tables, etc.. but all this elements need to be simplified and adapted to the characteristics of the audience ( "complicated" or "sophisticated" tables or charts can be a powerful limit during a presentation...)
  • Use Ppt in a linear "way" during a workshop can be heavy and boring so the facilitator/presentator should be the "master the game" through its facilitation skills

But some others Tools as Prezi are interesting even if in our context (here in Africa), internet is not to fast in order to use prezi optimally


Paul Corney: Nadia great summary to which I'd add its about the audience as much as the presenter especially when you are dealing in a language that is not the audience's first. I try and use images AND if there is a translator to spend at least 30 minutes before hand going through the presentation with them so they understand the emphasis and inferences. Having just chaired KMUK and seen so many presentations (often with too many slides and bullet points) I find more and more the need for video and audio clips to break up the flow.


Arthur Shelley: I would add that PowerPoint slides are there for the audience, not the speaker. It helps them to follow the flow of your argument and be a reminder later.


Tony Ghaye: Why not try 'Prezi' instead of Powerpoints. It fabulous and can be downloaded free. Once you've tried this you'll never again use Powerpoints!!


Siham Rashid: I fully agree with Paul’s outlook on the use of PPT. From my own experience visuals have always been very helpful especially when it comes to charts, tables, etc…I am more of a visual learner – so the use of PPTs during workshops, meetings and conferences, etc…has always been of value for me. I agree with Paul in that having too much information on one slide, font, etc…are the problem and not the PPT itself. As someone who does a lot of public speaking, PPTs have always been helpful in that when I feel that I may lose track of what I’m saying, I have something to look at and others can easily follow. Also, when sharing information/discussions, photos are always helpful in telling a story – helping to drive the point across and the PPT allows for this. The PPT does not replace the speaker, facilitator, etc…, but is a helping tool.


Paul Mundy: I agree with Pete. Call me old-fashioned, but I have nothing against PowerPoint presentations. They are a good way of getting information across, a support for nervous speakers, and a visual stimulation and reinforcement. The problem is not with PowerPoint per se, but with bad PowerPoint presentations. Tiny, illegible text, too many slides for the time available, presenter reading from the slide, and so on - we've all seen them. But not everyone is a great extemporaneous speaker; not everyone can express him- or herself clearly; not everyone operates well in a touchy-feely interactive situation. And some people need to get visual information across. For certain situations, prepared well and used with skill, PowerPoints are hard to beat.


Pete Cranston: this will be a useful list. KM4Dev is our home so we're free to relax and ask people to leave their shoes/ppts at the door. But they're such a standard tool and people who aren't used to open, participative meetings, can find those kind of activities more intimidating than doing a prepared talk. I've also been slightly softened in my opposition to ppt by a recent event, where I had to document as well as facilitate (not the most effective combination of functions, I have to add). But in that case the ppt were really useful for the report, especially since we were draconian in setting and holding people to their 10 - 15 minutes (sharing the 'chair' role with participants) so most people summarised as they went along. That also meant they engaged in a reflection on their own presentations, which was interesting as well. And creative people can use even ppt creatively: there was one presentation consisting of one slide with five logos, as the basis for getting people to talk, and at least from a common starting point. I was struck too that the best presentation - in the sense of drama, clarity and use of time - came from someone who re-wrote her presentation expressly to fit into the time but also designed it to stimulate and allow discussion. So I agree with Lucie that it's a lot to do with facilitation - trying to minimise the formal but where that feels right or is unavoidable, to work with people so that they can be more communicative and engaging. The Rome KMShare Fair was great in that it linked facilitators and presenters in advance so we could talk through options. And in terms of alternatives, variations on speed-geeking/marketplace formats also work well, where 'presenters' have 60 secs to pitch in plenary - so everyone knows what's in the room, and then participants spend time (15-20 mins) with two or three of the presenters in turn, allowing them to question and discuss in smaller groups.


Eva Schiffer: I think one question is a merely technical one (Do you use a computer to project prepared pictures and words on a screen?) and another question is more of an attitude and approach question (Do you want to create a distance between yourself and your audience, do you want to be seen as the person with the knowledge, do you want to own the show?). Because if you have a technical restriction (no electricity for example) but don't change the attitude and approach, you could have a presentation with printed posters or well prepared flip charts or even just giving a speach on a podium that is as non-participatory as the power point presentation. Teachers and politicians have done that kind of thing for ages before the computer came along. I agree with you that some methods make it easier to pontificate and others make it easier to get into a participatory mode, but if your clients are mainly interested in "delivering inputs" as you put it, they might take any approach and follow the letters but not the spirit. I am pointing this out because I sometimes work with clients like this and I am amazed at how some people can steal the very soul of a participatory approach without breaking any of the formal rules of it... As for my favorite method for engaging with others around an issue, I love to have them draw participatory influence network maps (Net-Map: http://netmap.wordpress.com). This approach is especially useful when the group is relatively clear about a goal they want to achieve but it is not clear how to get there and who they could work with, who would be in their way, what kind of networks they still need to develop, etc.


Lucie Lamoureux: Great initiative! It's always hard to get people to give up their PPT slides, there's a lot of comfort in those decks! To me, the key to making people feel better about leaving the slides behind is facilitation. And prior to the session, it's good for the facilitator to have a talk with them to see what key points they want to raise and gently leading them during the session to doing so. Another nice way to do this is the Chat (or Talk ) Show: http://www.kstoolkit.org/Chat+Shows Why I like about all these non-PPT ways of exposing content is that you don't get overwhelmed with minute details, you get to the essential pretty fast. And participants ask for clarifications through their questions.


Josef Hofer Alfeis: I have good experiences with the annual KnowledgeCamp of the German association for KM (gfwm): In the beginning anyone can propose to the audience (without PPT) to fill one of the time slots in an empty program sessions frame with his/her impulse presentation (with or without PPT) and moderation of the following discussion. The audience decides by acclamation, if he/she gets one. When the KnowledgeCamp program is ready and running the participants can join or leave a session like in Open Space Sessions. This form of event is also called BarCamp or UnConference.


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