The language of learning

Last Friday I attended the eLearning Network’s event, ‘Converting classroom courses’. Ben Betts and the team did a great job of pulling together a very enjoyable event. There were one or two controversial moments, one of which I’m saving for a separate blog post. Craig Taylor has pulled together a video of the highlights which you can view here (and no I didn’t realise I was going to be used as the thumbnail for the video when I agreed to contribute!)

The event also saw me deliver my first ever Pecha Kucha presentation. I’m sure most of my readers are familiar with this style of session, but just in case you’re not the standard definition is: Pecha Kucha is Japanese for chit chat. It is a presentation methodology in which 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each, usually seen in a multiple-speaker event. The eLN has been staging these sessions for over a year now and there is a contest between three speakers, the winners of which are put through to a grand final at the last event of the year.

Creating the presentation was a really interesting process, as the topic can be anything you like. I wanted mine to be relevant and useful, but hopefully not teach any of the audience how to suck eggs! I came up with the idea whilst I was out walking my dog a couple of weeks ago and if you watch the presentation, you’ll find out why I chose to talk about the language of learning. I set about scoping out what I wanted to say as I would with any other presentation and then edited the content down to suit the pecha kucha format. I’ve recently started using Prezi for my presentations but decided to stick with PowerPoint for this. I was able to pre-programme the slides to flick forwards after 20 seconds and I wanted to concentrate on the content, not the delivery tool on this occasion given that I only had 6 minutes and 40 seconds. I found the discipline of only having 20 seconds of air time per slide was fantastic for stripping out unnecessary content. It’s much the same as managing to say what I want in 140 characters on Twitter. Given free reign I’d say more than I needed to, but found that I could still effectively convey my point in just the 20 seconds allowed per slide.

I was particularly glad that I’d come up with the idea well in advance as last Wednesday, I also attended the inaugural Wee Learning event in Bristol. The organisers Sam Burrough and Dan Roddy asked a couple of days beforehand if I’d like to preview my pecha kucha with their audience. Happily I was ready to go so agreed to their request. Running through the session ahead of Friday’s event was really good practice and enabled me to tweak the timings of the presentation before I did it for the eLN.

I did use notes during my delivery on Friday and in hindsight I wouldn’t do that again. I didn’t really need them to be honest, they were a bit of a safety net to keep me on track if I lost my place. With the slides moving on automatically after 20 seconds I didn’t want to get myself in a pickle, but in the end they were probably more distracting than helpful! I didn’t win the competition – I had worthy opponents in John Curran and the aforementioned Dan Roddy, and Dan talking about gamification was a great choice for the winner. I had some very positive comments from the audience afterwards though and I hope I gave people some food for thought.

As I say in the presentation; one of our aims in learning and development is to engage people and hopefully inspire them too and I’m not sure we always manage to achieve this. I strongly believe that subtle nuances in our language and how we communicate to different audiences can make all the difference with how engaged our learners are with us and our learning content. What are your thoughts?

Pecha Kucha first slideC

Click the image to access the presentation file.

And if you have any comments on the presentation, I’d love to hear them.

Disclaimer: In keeping with the spirit of the pecha kucha, this recording was done in one take. As well as learning how about a new presentation style, this exercise has also taught me some new things about presentation software. The file is quite large so if you have any issues with it, please do let me know. I’d also like to confirm that the applause at the start and the finish is unfortunately not authentic and was added courtesy of the audio library in PowerPoint ๐Ÿ™‚

Thanks
Kate

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About kategraham23

Start-up founder, writer, connector, librarian's daughter. Interested in learning, HR, technology, online, media, marketing, fashion and cricket. Not always in that order. The views expressed here are solely my own and do not reflect the thoughts and opinions of the company I work for currently, or those I've worked for in the past.
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3 Responses to The language of learning

  1. I’ve been thinking about using Pecha Kucha as part of an activity I’m considering, getting the attendees to bring along pre-prepared sessions. Any advice as to how to prep them for it?

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  2. kategraham23 says:

    Hi Andrew, it’s a good way of getting attendees involved I think. Key thing is make sure they understand the rules of course and then depending on their PowerPoint skills, ensure they know how to time the slides so they move on automatically after 20 seconds. This removes the need for them to do the clicking and helps keep them to time. Also, my erstwhile competitor Dan Roddy discovered a way to create an audio tool to help him time his talk. More details here: http://www.learningrocks.co.uk/2011/10/prepare-better-for-lightning-talks.html

    Good luck, let me know how it goes ๐Ÿ™‚

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  3. Pingback: What’s in a word (or words)? | Learning as I go…

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