April 6

event planning tip

#eventtip: No more death by powerpoint. Tips for better presentations and alternatives for presentations

How to improve how much people remember of what you tell them at your events.

You organize an event to share knowledge. So by default you will have a lot of presentations. With endless powerpoints full of bullets. But how do you ensure that people really pay attention, like the experience and remember it? Download our free booklet for tips for more effective knowledge sharing at your events. short and practical!

Our tips to share knowledge more effectively at your events:

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effective presentations?

Hint: Not with death by powerpoint and endless presentations. Research shows that people will not remember it. If they are bored or distracted they won't. But even if they pay attention, is a presentation a very ineffective way to make people remember. At least not if that isnt combined with active learning methods.

practical tips for presentations

Presentations can be much better. In this little booklet we give you practical tips. 

practical tips to use instead of presentations

Very often a presentation is not the best way. Especially if your speaker is not a good speaker, or if you are not sure they are. The audience doesn't remember much. The speaker doesn't shine. And you are nervous about the presentation: will it be bearable? Will the speaker deliver? Therefore our booklet gives alternatives to presentations. 

  • have your speakers give better presentations
  • use active learning methods into your presentations or instead of presentations
  • use alternatives to presentations to make sure your speaker gives a better impression and people remember much more
  • How to organise and structure your event for more effect
  • read the whole booklet in 10 minutes: its not a book


One of my clients organises a lot of knowledge sharing events. Technical experts share their expertise. But that they are knowledgeable in their field doesn t mean they are good in sharing it. Many talk to long, skip argumentation steps, or get stuck on the things people already know. Or they are just boring. And you never know in advance how well they will do, so it remains a lottery. And even if all the individual presentations would be good, too many presentations in a row just doesn't work. At least not for all participants.
Therefore we wrote a little booklet with some tips. This is the English translation of that manual.

Rogier Elshout, author

Presentations/lectures usually have a low learning yield. Active learning methods make people remember more. Is someone giving a presentation? Then follow these tips. But in many cases it is better to use an alternative for a presentation. Tips for applying active learning methods during, around or instead of a presentation. General tips for a good conference. No more death by powerpoint. You organize an event to share knowledge. But how do you ensure that people really pay attention, like the experience and remember it? Not with death by powerpoint and endless presentations. And how do you ensure that you don't have to be nervous about whether a speaker will deliver what you booked them for? These tips help you as an event organizer to choose methods that are fun, enthusing and effective in order to maximize your return on your event. : The theory of learning start with learning goals. . . You can only achieve goals if you set them. Formulate learning objectives for your workshop/presentation/event. Formulate this as concretely as possible. “Afterwards, participants must...” ● ● Knowledge ....know that ● ● Skills ...be able to ● ● Attitude ...think that/focus on/think from ● ● Behaviour ... do X (differently) the next day . Ask yourself: “If participants meet a colleague at the coffee machine the next day: what summary in minute would they give?” And what if you keep asking: "That sounds great, but what can you do with it in practice in your work?" active learning methods give better results When you give a lecture or presentation, people don't remember much of it. Roughly speaking: % of what people hear, % of what people read and % of what people see and hear. So even the very best presentation is poorly remembered. Adding active learning methods ensures that people remember much more. Different people learn differently. Different people have different preferences for gaining knowledge. A good lesson/event therefore appeals to these different learning styles, so that everyone gets their money's worth/achieves maximum return. This is possible with the “Kolbs learning cycle”: doing, feeling, looking and thinking. If you have this all, everybody gets their preferred way. Flipping the classroom – the idea Flipping the classroom is a trend in education. Teacher used to explain something in class (knowledge transfer) and you had to do homework at home (knowledge processing). Now they now reverse that: .You can read information at home or watch an explanation video. .During the lesson you will work on processing: questions to the teacher, group assignments, discussion, etc. This way you make optimal use of the time that the teacher can help you and the time that the class is together. Flipping the classroom – at events This concept is also great for events. Why bring people from all over Europe together to passively listen (which they can also do at home) instead of doing something together? Why not make a nice video with explanation, send it to people as homework and then work together during the event to deepen and process? Another advantage is that you only have to make a video once (with a th take if it doesn't work out immediately), which you can use again and again. You can also show this video to people who are not coming to your event: this way you still spread your knowledge. The disadvantage of giving people homework is: will they do it? You can say: that is their own responsibility and their own choice. Or you can say: it is mandatory and we check at the start whether people have done it and those who have not done it are not allowed to enter. Or something in between. But think carefully about this: . . . . What is an acceptable amount of homework? How inclined are people to do that? To what extent is it mandatory or just a suggestion? And is there a penalty for not doing so? Is the information you give accessible/simple enough to process independently without the ability to ask questions? : Better presentations Tips for a good presentation If you (still) choose to give a presentation, use these tips: ••Max minutes • Then the attention span is over. • Still longer? Then you have to do something in between to wake people up again. Choose a limited number of goals • Less is more: focus on a small number of things, or thing you want your hearing to remember. And explain that well and repeat that. • See the tips from Start with your summary Say what you are going to say. Say it. Say what you just said. . Head (start of presentation) • Summarize what you are going to say. So the structure of your story, and your key point(s) are clear to your audience. They no longer have to guess where you are going, and can concentrate on your argumentation/explanation . Body • Structured explanation . Tail • Summarize what you said, and repeat your key point(s) A good PowerPoint Does your PowerPoint support you as a background dancer? Or is your presentation the star and you are just the voiceover? Let your PowerPoint also help support the structure of your story: not just what you say, but also the roadmap (where are you in your story). • No text! • If people start reading one while you're telling something else, then both people won't remember. • Only use a few keywords. • Prefer pictures. • Still a long text or quote ? read this in its entirety. • Is your PowerPoint also suitable as a reference work/ handout ? Can it also be understood without your explanation? Then it's not good. Make a second version – with all the text as handout. We give trainings too Are you or do you have a speaker that could use some help with their presentation, stage performance or stage fright? Or to craft a great story together? Have a client that needs to be ready to give an interview and stay on message? Do you want to get more inspired on how to design your events? https://moderating.eu/training-coaching/ : Instead of presentations Few people give good presentations There are great speakers. But a lot of people aren't. Even if they are very knowledgeable, nice or famous. In that case, there are better ways to let someone share knowledge. Someone may present as someone: . can tell a fascinating story. . tells what you have agreed / what was ordered for (and does not digress, tell something completely different or is an unguided missile that you have no idea where it is going). . does that within the time, and is not still at the introduction at the - minute signal and then has to rush through the key messages. Do you know someone can't? Or are you not sure because you haven't seen someone give a presentation yet? Or is the speaker very nervous and dreads giving a lecture or putting together a presentation? Then choose a method other than a presentation. You also do your speaker a favor: shining and coming across well (the person and their message) is also in their interest. Interview (by the moderator) ● What ● The moderator, colleague or someone else interviews the speaker ● Why ● ● ● ● You keep control over the message, the time and the atmosphere, you can steer. The speaker has less to prepare. The speaker is less nervous. The speaker can focus on the content instead of the PowerPoint, the time, etc. ● ● How tips ● Prepare it a little bith with the speaker: the core of what you are going to discuss, but it will not be a play with rehearsed question- answers. . . . . Provide a few pictures in the background to illustrate the story. But no slides with text. Do clear expectation management at the beginning: In this interview, we are going [goal]. Don't ask the speaker to introduce himself, let the interviewer do it. They can do that shorter and glorify them unashamed. Ask very specific questions instead of vague questions (not: “You bake bread, can you tell us something about that?” but “You bake bread. Your bread is known for its crispy crust. You use earthenware dishes instead of metal molds for this. How does that make it crispier?”) Q & A by the audience ● ● ● ● What ● Speaker is interviewed by the audience. Why ● You are sure it's about what the audience thinks is important. ● It only works if the audience does have questions. How ● Mimic the TV format “college tour” as much as possible. tips . Have the facilitator come up with some questions and keep them as follow-up questions. . Let the audience come up with questions at home/over coffee/at the beginning. Pitches ● ● ● ● What ● Short pitches WhyHowtips .Short and sweet Gives energy to the audience and enthusiasm to the speaker: the goe for it. ●The speaker is allowed to pitch their company, idea, themself, product, etc. in / / seconds. .Be strict with time . More than minutes rarely makes it better. . And above all, say that in advance: rather strict in advance and flexible during, than careful in advance and then still have to cut them off. Make sure that a speaker not only has to explain something, but also sell it. Make it a spectacle: applause, a beautiful soap box to stand on, a roaring announcement. Have a bell to end end the time. If you cut them off its rude, if the bell does it it is not. Jury or audience choosing a winner for a bit of healthy competition. : active learning methods (before, during or after a presentation. Or instead of it) variation = attention Alternate between different methods. Variety keeps people awake and alert and that way you appeal to different learning styles. That doesn't mean that every session has to look completely different. Each session can follow a fixed format, but with the same alternating methods. A fixed format can help: . . . Recognizable and predictable for the participants Easy for yourself: don't always reinvent the wheel For the speaker: no need to think about format #Slide Asking questions in advance / setting learning objectives ● ● ● ● What ●Don't let people ask the speaker their questions afterwards, but beforehand. Or write down their learning goals for the event. Why .You make people responsible for their own learning process. People think: what do I actually want to learn? The speaker can better tailor content to wishes (and be reminded for a moment: you are here for them, not for yourself). Howtips .Just raise your hand and verbally, or Submit by app or with yellows. Write them down somewhere visible to everyone Grab that afterwards and check: has it all been answered? Consult your neighbour ● ● ● ● What ● Short exchange with neighbour. Why ● Make people think for a moment. How ● Before, during or after an explanation, let people briefly discuss something with a neighbor, or a group of max . tips Simple question (not: “How do you bake bread” but “What is your biggest bread baking tip” or “How high do you set the oven”) The exam ● ● What ● recap of what has been said afterwards or at the start of the next course day . Why . . . People will listen better if they are heard. They certainly remember the things from the test You know if it stuck or not. ● ● How tips ● You can take it as seriously as you want. . . . Start with a question everyone gets right. % correct answers give the best ratio of pride/will to do better. Ask questions about your core goals. The quiz ● ● ● WhatWhyHow● Build your story like a quiz .People remember better what they have first had to guess You force the speaker: choose a maximum of things that people should remember, we will add a question to each of them. This is perfect for people who tend to be boring, speak to much, deviate from their story, want to tell the wrong things (researchers explaining their methodology instead of the results), etc. It's super fun to do, gives a game element. There is naturally variation. Method ◦ Last man standing quiz ◦ Pub quiz ◦ Kahoot or Mentimeter have fun quiz features Ask a question and then have the speaker explain why the correct answer is the correct answer. ● tips . . Prize for the winner Make the speaker sidekick, not presenter. The speaker is there to explain the answers, the presenter to monitor the game element, pace and accessibility. The discussion/debate ● ● ● WhatWhy ●● Have a discussion in the audience about the subject matter. This way you force people to form their own opinion (what do I actually think) and for that they need an understanding of the subject matter: they will therefore pay more attention to the subject matter and you give it more depth. And it's just really fun. How . There are countless forms of debate. For example: . Free discussion . Stand in line debate . House of Commons . Triassic debate ● tips . . . Use good propositions.motions as the basis for your debate or discussion. Do not question the subject matter, but take it as a starting point. For example: the speaker explains that we should eat more apples, do not say “we should eat more apples” but “we should eat green apples”. Do not save the debate or discussion to the end, but do a debate block after each block of explanation. This way you can alternate nicely. many different forms ● Free discussion ● House of Commons ● Stand in line ● Trias ● Post the statement and everyone can give their opinion, possibly after voting with voting cards or an interaction app. ● ● ● Post the statement and people have to choose sides. ● Variant: people get an 'imposed point of view' instead of their own opinion. The nuance is allowed to go overboard and people become passionate advocates of their side. Post the statement and people have to stand where their opinion is: to one of the extremes, or more to the middle. ● Divide the group into : one group is the advocate for the statement, one group is the advocate against the statement and by debating with each other they try to convince the third group. The third group listens and can indicate afterwards who they agree with (and why). If necessary, this group can also question the proponents and opponents. The Brainstorm ● ● ● ● What ● Let people post their ideas, comments or suggestions. Why How tips ● ● This is how everyone has to work: even those who don't open their mouths quickly. Everyone's opinion counts. And you have a nice visual overview. Post-its on posters. . . Ask focused, one-dimensional questions • So not “write something about bread” but “what bread should we bake” and “what quality should our bread have”. Make the poster beautiful. The tablecloth What Why ● ● Have groups go through a problem or case on the basis of sub-questions/a diagram. By breaking up the big question into sub-questions and visualizing them in a diagram, the discussion at the table becomes more concrete, more focused and people don't linger too long because 'we still have to do the rest'. Example Groups with different stakeholders were given a case of which it was not clear who exactly was responsible. With this assignment they investigated where it belonged, and what had to be done. How tips ● Print tablecloths or posters. . . . Keep the groups small ( - ) otherwise not everyone will get a chance. Dare to break the question into very small questions. Appoint a facilitator. Example In this task, the facilitator took statement cards from a stack and placed them in front of the table. Did everyone agree or not? We identified that ) there is a lot that we agree on and ) which things are controversial and should therefore be discussed further. show, don’t tell ● What ● Show your product instead of just telling. ● Why ● Show don't tell. ● How ● Give a demo. ● tips Even more fun than showing it, is letting people do it themselves. Do! ● ● ● ● What ● Making something, building something, testing or using a product, tinkering with a prototype.... There is so much to do. Why ● Highest form of energy, engagement and retention. How ● Be creative! tips Be realistic: it must be finished within time. Rather something small and achievable than something big that never works out. : a good conference or seminar A good conference or seminar The tips above were about individual sessions. But how do you build an entire congress of half, full or several days? And: how do you build a consistent quality that is acknowledged, recognized and trusted by participants, while you yourself have to put less and less energy into it? Do our event check! Set standards for all your events Draw up a number of principles that each event must meet. Our events are (for example) : . . . . . . . . . Always have SMART objectives that we evaluate afterwards. Always interactive. Always with a surprising element. Never more than minutes until a break. Smooth and fast paced, never boring. Free. Professional: light, sound, image and setup look good. Of good quality: rated at least with an by the public. We do it right or we don't. Never in a theater setup, always in an interactive setup. example For a big European institution we helped them create an event canvas A set of rules and standards all their events should have. And a way to decide of they should do this hybrid or not One-off or a series? Success takes time. Attracting people to a one-off event is difficult. It becomes easier if you program a series: a recurring format. For example, a knowledge café every months or a meet-up every quarter. This gives you rhythm, leads to recognizability and predictability and hopefully to a solid fan base that doesn't want to miss an episode. vary People can handle a long lecture just fine. But not ten in a row. Not even three. And, people are different: they learn differently, have different interests and different reasons for coming. Some want to listen, others give their opinion. Some come for the content, others for the atmosphere. Some have a long attention span, others want to get started. So provide variety to keep people fresh and to let everyone get their money's worth. The later the more active If people are still fresh in the morning, they can easily handle a long lecture. As the day progresses, interaction, entertainment and 'disruption' become more important. But do start with something active. First a boring welcome talk, many ceremonies and ritual speeches immediately sets the tone: sink into your chair, today will be passive and predictable. Together time = interaction time You have invested time, money and effort to bring together many colleagues, stakeholders or people with similar interests. What a shame is it then not to let them interact! Consuming information, couldn't that also have been done via YouTube or Zoom? Make the most of the opportunity of so many people together to get to work together. Exchange experiences, generate ideas or debate schools of thought. Choose interaction purpusfully Interaction is important to keep people awake, alert and engaged. But it also has a purpose: achieving your goals. So don't ask a question for the sake of the question. Don’t do obligatory slido questions because that is expected. Don't just have a discussion or 'open the floor and see where it goes': use your interaction purposefully to achieve your goals. Speakers have nothing to say Speakers are not the VIPS at your event who can dictate how their contribution should be. They are hired by you to entertain, train or inspire your audience. Good ideas are always welcome, but you remain in charge of your event. Engaging room setup If you want people to interact with each other, that something really happens and speakers and audience make contact with each other, then the 'church' or 'theatre' set-up is deadly. There are so many better room setups. And if people can see the screen a little less: who cares? It's not about the PowerPoint. #protip: often locations are difficult about the set-up, because they are not used to it. Stand your ground. Promotion is key, the rest details You have arranged everything: top speakers, fun entertainment, a beautiful room and delicious catering. But no-one shows up. Or just the usual suspects, or the people who were already convinced and not your target audience. What a waste! Promotion is the basis of your event. Start by creating your invite: what's going to draw a full house? Why do people come? Why wouldn't they come? What is a convenient day, a convenient location and what program do people want? Once you get that straight, the rest isn't that hard. Next, most of your time should be in promotion. And don't start promoting when everything is finished, then you're too late. Start with promotion, the rest will follow later. Involve your moderator early Are you asking for a moderator/presenter/mc? Get them involved first, before asking for speakers or arranging anything else. Choose a professional moderator who can help you focus on your goals and can help you think about the ideal format to achieve those goals. Just because someone knows a lot about a topic doesn't make someone a good moderator. A good moderator is the expert on form, not content. And the content, that is safeguarded by you and your speakers. Our moderators We find the right moderator for your event, who fits to your goals, audience, topic and atmosphere. We make sure we understand what we talk about. But most importantly, we make sure we understand where you want the conversation to lead to. We not only moderate your event, we help you design the program. We are experts in methodology to get the best results. We help you get more return on your investment.

About the author 

Rogier Elshout

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