Battling Powerpoint fatigue
Let’s face it: in many organisations and in many contexts, PowerPoint or Keynote slides are still the main means to communicate. In the process of crafting a narrative or presentating a narrative, there often will be meetings where one owner will tirelesly present a sequence of slides. This tends to not fully use the intellect of the people in the room as it does not ditribute ownership in the room. There is one person that talks, the rest listens. Secondly, as the owner controls the buttons, he or she tends to spend too much time on slides that are clear for everyone, and too little on slides that are not clear. On top of that, it is often difficult for people in the room to fully grasp the complete storyline when watching a sequence. There is where the Presentation Gallery Walk comes in.
The Presentation Gallery Walk allows people to explore the slides in their own pace, oversee the full storyline and zoom in on the parts of the presentation that are not clear to them. It can either be used to review a presentation or to present a final presentation.
Idea speed dating is a great way for a group to quickly come up with many ideas, and to have people build off of other’s ideas. It accomplishes three key things: it generates many different ideas, it helps build on and select directions for the best ideas and helps building a connection between participants. Finally, the end result is often a beautiful, rich, colourful mural of thoughts that can be used as inspiration throughout events now and in the future.
This all makes idea speed dating a very powerful and useful exercise during live or remote events with teams.
Five Structural Elements for the Presentation gallery walk
The presentation gallery walk is a really nice exercise to help a more traditional organisation move away from standard powerpoint presentation. It is an easy step away from collectively looking at a screen and convince people that a more collaborative approach works. As a facilitator, the key challenge is in time keeping, making sure people stay engaged.
Five structural elements
How to read the instructions
This is a rather easy structure for people to understand. There are -however- three main things you will need to weave into your invitation:
- Purpose of this session. This will fall into two key areas: you’re probably are either working on a storyline and inviting them to give feedback and help make it better (where your invitation will be mainly about giving them te right information to help them help you) or you want to inform them about something (where your invitation will mainly focus on inviting them to look at the slides and ask for clarification later).
- Explain why you are doing this (rather than a normal PowerPoint sequence presentation on a screen).
- Make clear what you are asking from the participants. In case you are looking for feedback, make clear what the goal and the audience of your presentation is (“we are working on a new presentation to present our organisation to potential clients during a sales pitch” or “we are working on several slides to present or 2025 plans to the board”). In case you want to inform the audience, mainly ask them to walk through the storyline and focus on the things they do not understand.
Tailor your invitation to what is needed in that exact moment.
Depending on the purpose of the session and the status of your presentation (e.g. is it final, or work in progress), you might want to take a moment to quickly explain the key storyline and/or point out specific things to look for when doing the gallery walk.
How Space Is Arranged and Materials Needed
It is easiest to work with with large, open walls, to hang your slides in a sequence. This will allow people to arrange around the slides and to truly walk past the slides like you would do in a museum (hence the ‘Presentation Gallery Walk’). In my experience, windows tend to distract people so I try to avoid hanging slides on a window (but that is just personal preference). This might mean that you need to clear the space a bit for people to be able to gather around a slide and/or walk past it.
In case your wall space is limited (or you just have too much slides), consider hanging the slides in rows below each other.
Sequence of Steps and Time Allocation
- Make sure the slides are hanged on the wall before the meeting.
- Make sure the space is arranged in such a way that allows participants to walk past and look at the slides as they were in a gallery.
- Explain the purpose of the excercise.
- Depending on the purpose of the excercise, take little time to explain the storyline and/or slides.
- Allow participants 10-15 minutes to browse the presentation gallery. You can either ask them to take notes or use post-its to write down their questions or comments.
- Discuss take-outs or questions collectively, ask people to hang their post-its per slide or use a structure like 1-2-4-all to discuss.
- Synthesize the outcomes and explain the next steps (update of the presentation, follow up on questions raised, etc.)
How Groups Are Configured
No special configuration needed.
Make sure people are able to see each and every slide when discussing.
How Participation Is Distributed
Everyone is allowed to browse the space, browse the gallery and to comment.
Additional tips and pointers
- Although A4 sizes slides might work in small groups, A3 (or bigger) truly make a difference and are way easier to read.
- Best to hang the slides on the wall before the meeting to avoid wasting time hanging slides in the meeting.
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I have 15+ years in changing companies to be less about ads and more about acts. I’d love to hear your story and see how I can help.