Design Presentations Like A Science Fair For Better Interactions

Meetings and presentations can be a waste of time if they aren’t handled well. Designer Michael Dearing suggests taking inspiration from science fairs to make exhibits that are more engaging and interactive.

Dearing is no stranger to meetings, having been an executive at eBay, Disney and other corporations. His idea for these science fair-inspired meetings is based on the notion that the current formula of “speaker on podium, audience in chairs” is boring and quickly loses attention. The science fair approach has the speaker print out his presentation and hang it up in different parts of the room, and then lead the audience in a walk from slide to slide. The audience is active, and even encouraged to interact with the presentation.

One good form of interaction is feedback, sourced through sticky notes. Dearing suggests giving the audience sticky notes, which they can write feedback on and stick to the slide. writes:

Collect input on Post-it notes. Then read the notes aloud to the group. The idea is to “equalise airtime.” If participants have to limit their comments to one Post-it note, you can come closer to evaluating their input by its on-paper merit, as opposed to the volume or vehemence at which participants voice their opinions. Better still, if you anonymize the Post-it notes, you’ll get even closer to evaluating the pure merit of the input, and avoiding the quid pro quo politics that can compromise the spirit of collective improvement.

Dearing’s full video is worth watching, where he explains how the science fair approach affects physical space, the concepts of sharing and receiving, and the general feeling of a meeting. There are also some other tips in there, such as taking feedback on whiteboards instead of sticky notes.

Designing Meetings [Harrison Metal via Inc]

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