Leadership · Curriculum · Lifelong Learning

I love presenting. I’m always fascinated by the different kinds of presentation formats available nowadays. The infrastructure of the presentation may be even more important than the message itself. It’s true. And knowing your space, setup, and schedule of activities will directly impact how effective you are in communicating your message.

If you’ve attended a conference in recent decades, you may have noticed that the formal presentation has nearly become a caricature of itself. Simply put, you can predict what’s going to happen. Usually sit-and-get, attendees may expect to learn some new ideas and implementation strategies; get free resources and maybe a t-shirt; and leave the lecture feeling good about themselves and their profession. But mostly, I think–people just want to be inspired.

It may even be considered an added bonus if the presenter keeps you engaged throughout your time together. Getting up to do something or being actively involved would help you construct a fond memory of the session. Leaving with something you could apply in your space the very next day would be the icing on the cake.

Presenting my first poster at the NCTIES Conference was an experience I’ll never forget, and not because my presentation was amazing (which it wasn’t). It was memorable because it didn’t feel like a presentation at all.

  • While the ballroom presentation felt like a one-way sermon, the poster felt like a conversation with individuals or small groups at various times.
  • While the formal presentation reached a fixed number of people in the crowd, the poster invited as many who were willing to come.
  • Whereas the sit-and-get was static in space and structure, the poster crowd flowed.
  • While the depth of the message may have been preconceived for the lecture, conversations in the poster area felt differentiated to the individual learner, and by the individual’s preference.
  • While the glazed over crowd was dazzled by glossy slides full of silly gifs, beautiful images, and rigorously-researched diagrams, the poster format was filled with people interacting in two-way conversations, specifically connecting to exchange ideas to become better in their craft, together.

The interesting thing is that the poster isn’t new at all. It’s also been around for… decades. I remember presenting a tri-fold board of my science fair project in seventh grade. I remember feeling a certain sense of ownership, proud of the hard work invested and the personal memories constructed, having learned by doing.

After having had the opportunity to do a handful of free presentations over the last four years, my first poster session format surprised me, because I hadn’t expected:

  • Conference attendees to show up to my booth 35 minutes early. I didn’t get time to finish setting up my space.
  • People to ask so many questions about #GridPlans: Flipgrid Your Sub Plans–a topic on which I’m very passionate.
  • Two-way conversations.
  • To learn more from the crowd than they learned from me.
  • To collaborate, coach, and consult in the same two-hour span.
  • To be totally exhausted–in a good way–by 10:00am.

Yes, I still agree: every professional learning format still has its place. But the poster session struck me in a way that wasn’t of the traditional sense. And I really liked it.

I’m excited to present #GridPlans and #Hashtag180 in two different #iste19 poster sessions this year. I won’t be staying up super late to make sure that my display is perfect, the colors pop, and that I use the jagged scissors for some posters but not for others. I will have a simple message, QR codes that lead to resources and long-term connection opportunities, and a few handouts. I will have simple opportunities to learn-by-doing–right there on-the-spot.

But mostly–I’m excited to have face-to-face conversations with people.

What are your thoughts? Comment here!

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