Dwayne Hodgson

A Portfolio

The work and adventures of Dwayne Hodgson,
+ Learning Designer & Facilitator at learningcycle.ca
+ Storyteller & Photographer @ thataway.ca

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Creating Dynamic Present-ipations (Part 2)


Part 2. Skip the Presentation
-- Add via Dialogue

In Part 1, I suggested a number of ways that you can make a presentation more interactive and effective for situations where you simply must make a presentation. Another approach I see a lot is to facilitate a large group conversation between the presenter and the audience. Typically, these fall into three categories: 

  • The Good: the presenter asks Open Questions (i.e. questions without a set, correct answer) to invoke input from the audience and then respectfully adds in her own points. 
  • The Bad: the Speaker asks Open Questions to the audience asking for their ideas and experiences, and then proceeds to either ignore them or to blatantly contradict them. 
  • The Ugly:  the presenter engages in a Socratic Dialogue in which he asks leading, Closed (Yes/No) questions to trap the audience into agreeing with him. (Jane Vella wrote a nice rebuke to Dr. Socrates a 2001 address to the Fielding -- ask her for a copy!)

I'm not saying that this kind of approach can't work sometimes, but it takes a skilled facilitator with good intentions to avoid committing what my friend, Peter Noteboom, calls "facipulation". As well, "fishing" for the right answers tends to take a long time (vs. just telling and inviting them to discuss). And even in The Good scenarios, the dialogue is still primarily one between the presenter and a few individual audience members. Ideally we want to create a multi-directional dialogue (a "multi-dogue"? "poly-dogue"?) in which the learners engage with each other, the content and ourselves as facilitators. 

Some Suggestions to Create Multi-Directional Dialogue

Here are a few alternatives that I've seen and tried. Please post your thoughts and suggestions in the comments section below.

12.  Review a Text Box:Alone, in pairs or in small groups, ask them to read and discuss a short handout describing the key content with a good open question. Set a defined time for the task, sit down and only go to a group if called.  You can then take up a sample of their a-ha's and/or questions in the large group.

13.  Small Group Edits Content: Provide a short written handout, table or diagram outlining the key content to the small groups and invite them to modify it:

  • add more content or examples to it
  • paraphrase or redraw it in terms that would speak to their colleagues,
  • cross out what they don’t agree with
  • highlight anything that requires clarification

You can then ask them make a short presentation back to the Large Group. But avoid "report back fatigue" by asking them to name their best 3 ideas, or to not repeat what others have noted. 

14. Work with Tangible Memory Aids. Provide a hands-on tool that outlines the key content and have them review by themselves, in pairs or in small groups.Global Learning Partners' does this brilliantly with their rolodex of the Principles and Practices of Dialogue Education. It's also a great memory aid for after the course. 

15.  Gallery Walk: Post the key concepts on charts set up around the room. Set an Open Question and invite the participants to walk around the room and review the charts with this question in mind. They can do this in by themselves, in pairs, or in small groups. This adds a great Kinaesthetic element to the design and allow them to absorb the content more deeply. It also honours the principle of Bums Out of Seats! Debrief in the large group. 

(e.g. I used this approach at a workshop on Education Rights that I did in my work with the Canadian Global Campaign for Education. I was very new to the position, and really didn't feel competent to lecture on the topic as I was asked. So instead, I posted six charts that summarized the state of the world's progress in meeting the 6 Education for All Goals. I then asked the student-teacher participants to walk around in small groups, review the charts and agree on a grade for how the world's governments were meeting these goals. We then took their grades in a lively large group discussion. It worked brilliantly). 

16. Speed Dating:Provide each participant with a different index card describing one element of the content (e.g. a concept, a principle, a step in a process, a definition of a key term). Invite them to share their summary of the concept and their reflections with another person in the room. After 2 minutes, invite them to switch pairs. Repeat as needed. Play some quiet two-minute songs on your iPod to keep time. 

17. Puzzle It Out:For concepts with multiple parts or interconnected problems, print out the concepts on large puzzle pieces that fit together. Invite the participants in small groups to assemble the pieces together to show the big picture. This works well if there is a set way of connecting the components. 

18. Create a Mind Map: Provide each group with the key components of your presentation on index cards (or large post-its) and invite them to interconnect these visually on a mind-map. For example, you could provide cards describing the factors that contribute to substance abuse in a community and invite them to map the interconnections on a larger chart using lines or string. Follow-it up with a gallery walk where they can view each other's work. This works well if there are several ways of relating the components to each other. 

Those are some of my initial thoughts? What did you add? Please feel free to post your answers via the link below. 

Thanks for listening, watching and interacting!