Tuesday, August 4, 2009

The End of Boring Powerpoints

Creativity is the process of generating new ideas or concepts. It can also mean taking something that is old and changing it so it is seen and understood in a new way.
One of the lessons taught to scout trainers is that people are different in the way they see and learn new things. Some will respond best to spoken or written directions while others learn best through graphic images or hands-on demonstrations. To communicate effectively to a group, we must find a variety of ways to present our material. Whenever possible use many types of media and keep it interesting.

Did you ever sit through a PowerPoint presentation where slide after slide of words rolled by – and the speaker read everything printed on the screen? This technique is often called “Death by PowerPoint”. It can be quite a snooze-fest. Printed words can be powerful but lost in a crowd, they can lose their importance. To illustrate a fresh approach/challenge for the coming Wood Badge course, the SR966 course director (Craig Britt) demonstrated the extreme opposite of this technique by using no printed words in his slide presentation – only graphics that complimented his spoken words.

This example was liberating. While strictly following the objectives of the Wood Badge syllabus, the staff of SR966 is taking Craig’s cue by finding clever new ways to present the material. Staff prep sessions have been fascinating to watch; there are so many ways that staffers inject their own personalities and skills into their presentations. We have seen numerous images of scouts in action, physical models, story-telling, play-acting, and even animation. It will be interesting to see what the final group of presenters has for us in August.
Hopefully, the net result of this creativity will be a course that better communicates the messages of Wood Badge to each participant. That is our goal – while keeping it simple and making it fun along the way.

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