Blog > Popcorn PPT

November 7, 2013

Alieke van der Wijk and Henk van der Steen have been turning up to Applied Improv Conferences for as long as I can remember. They have individually and together been a great inspiration to me, as well as often challenging my thinking.

At this year’s conference they again delighted with Popcorn PPT. I loved it, and immediately stole it. I’ve now used it twice – once with a group of 16 people, and once with a group of 100+.

It’s simple, of course. All the best ideas are. Put together 50 slides about your topic (preferably pics – forget the wordy slides, the complicated graphs, the impossible-to-see detail, the bullets) then get the audience to choose the three or five you will talk about. As I said, simple. Awesome.

Avoids you deciding what’s important and what’s not (you do anyway by choosing the slides – it’s just that you have to let go of most of them). Helps avoid the ‘curse of knowledge’ and wanting to share everything you know about a topic. Avoids being too linear – especially when the topic is complex (and most topics are) and adds an extra element of interest to the audience, and keeps you, the presenter, ready to respond to whatever emerges. It also takes way less time than your usual presentation.

Someone quipped it would avoid all that time preparing for a presentation. Um, not so. You do need to be prepared to speak to whatever slide comes up. As improvisers keep reminding us, improvising is not the same as winging it. I found the process of selecting images and thinking about why it was important to my topic helped focus my mind, and my message.

I think it would be cool to experiment with a string of these – next time a client absolutely has to have presentations as part of an event. Each presenter has 50 slides, the audience gets to randomly choose 3 (on the spot – not in advance), then on to the next presentation.


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