Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Death by Powerpoint… we have heard this comment so many times and yet not much changes …many presenters continue to rely on powerpoint presentations.

They do have their place, however sitting through a whole day of powerpoints is tiring and I don’t believe a very effective way to learn. They work in a “telling” relationship such as a conference presentation where you are presenting facts or data.

In a facilitated workshop using adult learning principles where ideas are drawn from the group there are other effective ways to discuss information and facts.

When I reflect on the conferences I have attended over the years the presenters I remember are often the ones who didn’t use a powerpoint and were able to get their message across in a simple effective way using tools like flip charts and drawing on the audience.

What can we do instead?

  • Flip charts – plan your presentation and use the flip charts to get your message across as you go. I personally prefer to use flip charts rather than a whiteboard as the sheets can be put up around the room and referred to as required (Once the whiteboard has been cleaned the information is lost).  Participants have told me they like the sheets to be put up in order so they can reflect back on the discussion and draw on the previous information as needed.
  • If you are not confident enough to draw them up as you go pre-prepare the flip charts – think about the material you would use on your powerpoint and develop some flip charts with some of the information on them prior to the workshop. Use the group to build the remaining information through an inclusive discussion process. The participants will have ownership in the discussion and are more likely to leave the workshop remembering the concepts you were aiming to impart.
  • If you are presenting the same information over and over, how about having some posters made up with critical information or models, these can be put up around the room and referred to as required.
  • Use a combination of flip charts and powerpoint – only using the powerpoint for essential visual information such as graphs or diagrams. Remember the “B” for blank button which turns off the powerpoint so the focus can be on the facilitator or others in the room when required.
  • Find some you-tube clips that deliver your message in a few minutes and then discuss the material with the group – capture their ideas on a flip chart.

I’d be keen to hear others ideas about powerpoint and what could be done instead.

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Comments on: "Powerpoints – a few alternatives" (1)

  1. Hi Jeanette,
    Have you heard of Prezi? If you must have a screen based presentation this is a brilliant alternative. It’s dynamic, non-linear, engaging and at the entry level is free! Not a dot point in sight! Takes a little bit of learning but worth the effort. The best way to get the picture is to visit:


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