How Many of these 86 Slides are Necessary?

A month and a half ago I was given two slide decks that totaled 86 slides of technical material. I was asked to develop a 2-day training workshop based on those slides.

This coming Thursday and Friday, two subject matter experts will facilitate the 2-day technical skills training workshop that I developed. How many slides will they click through?

Zero.

Once I had an opportunity to sit down and talk with several subject matter experts to better understand what trainees should be able to do new or differently or better as a result of this training, I realized that PowerPoint slides would be the least effective visual aids possible. The slides have been replaced by a series of individual, small group and large group activities, live demonstrations and discussions.

To be fair, there was one slide that was still hanging on in the almost-final version of the training program. It just seemed like too much work to fire up an LCD projector for a single slide. That slide was replaced with an activity in which the facilitator would illustrate her points using a flipchart. According to several recent studies, illustrating your points with a whiteboard or a flipchart is a more effective teaching strategy than even the most visually appealing slide, anyway.

I’m not saying that PowerPoint should never be used. I am saying that it doesn’t have to be the default visual aid for every aspect of every presentation.

 

4 thoughts on “How Many of these 86 Slides are Necessary?

  1. Such a gorgeous sentiment Brian. As I read your post I was thinking how fun it would be to ask a class at the beginning of a class if they would like PPT slides or NO slides. Should they choose no slides you can say “Challenge Accepted!” and then dominate the class with charts and stickies and things. Thanks for being so exceptional and motivating.

    • Ooooo. I LOVE that idea, Scott! Giving people the option (and being ready to accept their challenge)… and then showing that it’s possible and perhaps ending by challenging the group to try to emulate this idea in their own sessions by reducing/eliminating the reliance on PPT.

      Gives the audience some degree of self-determination… and the idea of a challenge makes it very fun (is this guy ACTUALLY gonna do a 2-day session without a single slide??).

  2. Another great post Brian. Too many students sit down expecting the blinds to close, lights to dim and mentally prepare themselves for another PPT bombardment. It is great to challenge this mind-set.

    • Thanks Nick. I’m excited to see how it goes this week – I have a feeling this will NOT be what the group will be expecting. It’ll be fun to see folks rolling up their sleeves and getting involved for 2 straight days!

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