In addition to alternative meeting formats, there are a number of delivery methods presenters are embracing that better engage their audience members and provide more value. Some of the more popular formats can be found below.
Got a favorite presentation format you’d like to share? Submit Here
Mini-Lecture or Lecturette
Popularized by the TED Conference, these abbreviated talks are designed to focus the messenger as well as the message. A word of caution: this is not as easy as it seems. TED talks are highly scripted, well-rehearsed events often supported by compelling presentation slides designed by professionals paid thousands and sometimes tens of thousands of dollars. Taking a full-length presentation (typically 45-60 minutes) and reducing it down to an effective 15-18 minute story requires careful planning and consideration. The best mini-lectures are followed by brief facilitated discussions, often by the presenter themselves. For example, a 15 minute presentation followed by a 45 minute discussion to fit into a standard 60 minute meeting time block.
For examples of mini-lectures, see www.ted.com
This delivery format was developed by a group of designers as a way of sharing their work with their peers. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, they simply wanted to establish a timeframe so presenters wouldn’t talk forever. This format (20 images for 20 seconds per image for a total presentation of 6:40) caught on with other design professionals and has made inroads into other industries like meetings and events. Today, there are over 550 cities around the world that host Pecha Kucha Nights. The formats popularity is a function of its easy accessibility (anyone can do it) and the rapid and often entertaining short-story format.
For more info and examples of Pecha Kucha, see www.pecha-kucha.org. For a humorous video explaining the correct way to pronounce Pecha Kucha, see http://bit.ly/14QPIF
An Ignite is like a Pecha Kucha on steroids. Instead of 20 images shared for 20 seconds per image, an Ignite is 20 images shared for 15 seconds per image for a blistering 5- minute presentation. As with Pecha Kucha, the challenge is on the presenters to tell a compelling story using the most appropriate images within the time allowed. It’s also worth noting that not every kind of content lends itself to these short formats.
For more information on Ignite, see www.ignite.oreilly.com
A StorySLAM is similar to a poetry slam, which you may be more familiar with. Storytelling is perhaps our oldest art form. This format allows participants 5 minutes to tell a story, usually following a chosen theme. No notes are allowed and the stories must be told, not read. Storytelling competitions sponsored by The Moth are popping up in cities around the United States like New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles but the appeal of stories are universal and everyone can tell a story. They are ideal vehicles for sharing information because they tend to connect with us on an emotional level. And what we connect with emotionally usually stays with us longer and supports more change.
For more information on StorySLAMs, see www.themoth.org
Buzz groups are a form of brainstorming. A Buzz group is a small group that breaks off from a larger group in order to generate ideas to take back to the larger group for discussion or decision-making or reaching a common viewpoint on a topic within a specific period of time. The use of buzz groups was first associated with J. D. Phillips and is sometimes known as the Phillips 66 technique. Large groups may be divided into buzz groups after an initial presentation in order to cover different aspects of a topic or maximize participation. Each group appoints a spokesperson to report the results of the discussion to the larger group.
These are just some of the more formal techniques being introduced into meetings and events which are designed to increase participation and engagement, and ultimately provide a more valuable attendee experience. The International Association of Facilitators (www.iaf-world.org) has a free database of over 550 techniques which can be used to facilitate group meetings or events (www.iaf-methods.org/methods). The techniques are searchable by name, application, or group size. Some of the techniques are best conducted by a trained facilitator, however, there are many that can be introduced by those with less experience.
Besides formal meeting formats, there are also informal formats which help accomplish the same objectives of engaging your attendees and enabling them to be more successful.
Like its musical roots implies, Mashups are a collection of seemingly random group of people who gather together to share interests and ideas. A Mashup can be organized by anyone at a meeting or event and promoted via a variety of channels from word-of-mouth to social media. A Tweetup is essentially a Mashup organized via Twitter (www.twitter.com). They can be planned or spontaneous. The idea is to provide attendees with a time and place where they can go to get their needs addressed if your formal educational programs or networking opportunities are not helpful or convenient for them.