I remember the first strategy away day I had with the senior team in a recently merged organisation; each wanted to present their strategy and intended to use PowerPoint. They were dismayed when I invited them to confine their presentation onto two pages of flipchart. But the conversation we had that day was rich, challenging, supportive, relevant, human – different to what they were used to and completely different to what it would have been, had we been pulled into the usual content-driven, detailed, fact-based, past-focused place that slides often pull us into.
I’m not against PowerPoint – it has many great uses, but I find it is being over-used and used for the wrong purposes in organisations.
My slice of the world is team coaching, and teams that are addressing knotty challenges (communication, competition, uncertainty, holding onto talent, etc) need to engage in open, honest, relevant – but mostly REAL debate that leads to clarity and commitment. So – here’s why I favour flipcharts and pinboards:
1. Workshop objectives dictate room layout – not whether everyone can see the screen or has access to a plug
2. Material can be posted on the wall, keeping key points in sight. And these can be updated, referred to, brought back to the office, even framed!
3. Flipcharts keep participants at high level, sharing relevant information rather than getting bogged down in detail
4. Presenters can respond much more easily to what is unfolding in the room – rather than delivering a pre-prepared presentation
5. Using flipcharts encourages movement around the room: creating a more energised atmosphere.
In other words, using flipchart and pinboards democratises the process and favours the group over the individual and changing the dynamic in the room from telling to discussing and helping everyone in the room stay in ‘adult’ mode. There can be something a bit final a slide, and a bit mesmerising about the passage of slides that lulls participants into a passive place. Moving away from technology changes the engagement level and ups the conversational ante.
Father of systemic team coaching, Professor Peter Hawkins talks about moving beyond insight to an embodied shift – and that this shift happens in the room or not at all. With the help of the low-tech environment of Flipchart, pinboard and whiteboard – shift happens!