Workshop Visualization (#wallpaper, #noprojector)

I will be using a #wallpaper (#noprojector) approach during my Management 3.0 Workout workshops.

One discussion that keeps popping up among trainers and facilitators is whether to use presentation slides during a course or workshop. The traditional approach is to use them extensively, but a number of facilitators are in favor of a #noslides approach. Some of them prefer to write and draw everything on the spot during their workshops.

My own preference is to take a nuanced view between those two extremes.

I think, the question should not be, “Should we use slides or not?”

It should be, “What kind of visualization is the most effective?”

First of all, it is clear that lack of visualization is not an option. Conversations and learning are (usually) vastly improved when we visualize the things we’re talking about. The challenge is to find the visualization approach that best fits our needs and context.

#slides or #noslides ?

slide11Some of the benefits of #slides (when created with care) are:

  • Consistent branding and good emotional potential
  • Easily transferable to trainers and resellers
  • Effort is in preparation; saves time during the event
  • Easy to distribute among participants for note-taking
  • Possibility for reuse on other distribution channels
  • Easy to validate for accreditation and certification

slide9Some benefits of a #noslides approach, with all visuals created during the event, are:

  • Easier to improvise and just go with the flow
  • More personal from the perspective of the facilitator
  • More hands-on and engaging for the participants

I’m sure I missed a few benefits, but you get the idea.

slide7I like the idea of not using presentation slides. My only issue with the #noslides approach is that its evangelists emphasize the benefits of drawing-on-the-spot without explaining how to compensate for the loss of the benefits of having well-crafted slides. When all you do is draw on a board in the room, how do you enable a colleague to facilitate the same workshop? How do you enable participants to add notes to your visuals? How do you show an accreditation committee which topics are covered by the courseware? Etc.

#wallpaper or #noprojector

slide2As I said, I like the idea of not presenting during a workshop. I certainly appreciate the ability to improvise, and I also agree that clicking through slides can be boring for some people. However, I want the benefits of #noslides but without losing the benefits of #slides. That’s why I use a #wallpaper (or #noprojector) approach during my new workshops.

The #wallpaper (or #noprojector) approachs means I still prepare slides, but I don’t project them from a computer. Instead, I have a stack of printed materials, and together with the participants I decorate the room with my wallpaper. The printed papers are optimized for viewing across a room and for being mistreated in any way we like.

slide10With this approach, I still have all the benefits of slides (branding, transferrable, preparation, note-taking, reuse, etc.). At the same time I also have the ability to improvise. I can show and discuss the wallpaper left-to-right, right-to-left, up-down, down-up, all at the same time, or I can tear them up and even fling them out the window. Try that with your presentation computer!

Furthermore, participants can scribble on the slides (when not yet ejected from the window), decorate them with sticky notes, take photos, and review/discuss them in any order throughout the day. I’m sure this is more engaging than staring at a projector screen for hours.

As a side-effect, I won’t have to worry about a failing computer, a broken presentation clicker or dysfunctional Wi-Fi. Now I only worry about wall space and LOTS of tape.

What do you think?

slide12 slide8 slide6 slide3


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  • Sergio Carabetta

    I totally agree, it’s more fun for everyone when visualization comes out as the presenter speak. Duly noted, the #noprojector approach could be a challenge for presenters less comfortable with their drawing and acting skills (you have to maintain the audience attention while you draw in a short time a graphic image that’s not distracting in itself).

    • jurgenappelo

      Indeed, though you mean the #noslides approach can be a challenge for people with lack of drawing skills. With my #noprojector approach there are still slides but I simply put them on the walls. No drawing needed.

  • Linda van der Pal

    One advantage of live drawing that you miss with slides or posters, is the effect that when you draw something live the participants will retain your material better. This is due to the effect that people remember their own writing/drawing better than things they see/read. AND when people see live drawing happening, the same neurons in their brains are fired as would have been fired if they had been drawing themselves.
    Sadly, I don’t have links to actual research, but I’m sure @jenniindk or @laurensbonnema could provide some.

    (Mind you, this is not meant as an attack on your valid arguments to use slides or posters.)

  • Bruce Lawrence

    I like the idea of it gradually consuming the wall space of the room. It also has the advantage of the facilitator being able to more easily witness if folk go back to previous slides during breaks, or if a ‘huddle’ appears around a particular slide where a discussion might be taking place etc.
    Out of interest Jurgen, what size are you printing the physical slides at?…A4, A3? (….yes I’m a details person!!)

    • jurgenappelo

      A3 would be nice, but I don’t have such a printer at this time.

  • Stefan Wunder

    I really like your #wallpaper approach. I also have been experimenting with physical slides
    in my workshops (similar to your approach). I experienced more engagement and possibilities for improvisation (like you), which is great. Despite the positive effects I couldn’t replace digital slides complete. Two reasons are:

    * If you want your slides big and conspicuous the beamer is a great tool (a big picture is differently perceived than a small one)

    * In larger rooms physical slides are harder to grasp (even if they are optimized for viewing through a room)

    I am still experimenting with a no-beamer approach but so far I prefer to combine #slides and the #wallpaper approach in my workshops.

    How is your experience using only physical slides in large groups / rooms, where it gets hard to everyone to grasp the slides?

    • jurgenappelo

      I only have experience with 2 small groups so far.
      Indeed, I am wondering what to do with bigger groups.
      Thanks!

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