Facilitation:Lectures and Presentations

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Lectures and Presentations

It is not the intent of this guide to document lecture and panel techniques and best practices. That said, the following suggestions are provided based on experiences organizing nonprofit technology events, in order to maximize value for participants.

Ask participants what they want out of the session: For lectures in particular, it is strongly recommended that the facilitator start the session by doing a quick go-round to ask each participant what they hope to get out of the presentation. This helps to both establish the level and range of knowledge in the room, as well as inform and focus the presentation content.

Lose the slideware: We live in a television-dominated culture; facilitators who utilize projected slides invite their listeners to disengage and stare at a screen. While there is undeniable value in summary of key points and presentation of illustrative diagrams and images, facilitators who can manage to present their topic without the aid of slideware will likely enjoy a more engaged and interactive audience. Slides can put speakers on autopilot, where the delivery amounts to reading bullet points instead of speaking with a group of human beings. Slides also invite an additional form of disengagement; participants will often presume they can download the slides and read them later, and then proceed to listen on auto-pilot themselves.

A strong counter-argument in favor of projected slides can be made when there is range of language skills and oral comprehension in the room; listeners who don't count themselves entirely fluent in the language of the presentation can benefit immensely from reading key points and concepts in addition to parsing the spoken word.