Presentation Hack: All Those Great Books?

When you get readers together into a room, they inevitably talk about the great books that have shaped their thinking.

This seems to be especially true when the setting is more formal, such as workplace or industry training event. (Academics take this to an extreme...and might find this blogpost especially useful! haha)

Imagine you're the presenter or coordinator of such an event:

When the titles and authors of recommended books are mentioned, your audience will be scrambling to jot down that title and author name. Inevitably they're going to misspell the author's name, right? Good luck finding it on Amazon tomorrow...

Instead, maybe they'll turn straight to Google to find it. They pick up their phones and zone out of your workshop long enough so that when they return...they're a bit lost.

Citing on slides themselves can be useful, but can also be distracting. Plus, this only helps when the citation is planned by the presenter. It doesn't allow for surprise suggestions by the audience members or other improv discussions.
So how can we as workshop facilitators or moderators help our audiences (and ourselves!) with documenting and sharing these sorts of recommendations and citations? 
I've used several tricks.

Consider a flip-chart, giant Post-It pad, or section of whiteboard dedicated to books, blogs, research papers, podcasts, or videos. A space on the side or back of the room works really well, as it doesn't become a distraction for the current conversation. When someone in class mentions a resource, jot it down on the board. Maybe go back and refine it for accuracy or spelling during a break. If you're working with a co-moderator (as I often do with Thom Dworak), the one (1) of us who is less engaged in the dialogue at the moment is the one (1) who records these recommendations on that board. This helps maintain the conversation momentum.

Thom Dworak frequently photographs his class lists and posts them to his social media. Attendees can then find the material, as well as authors themselves frequently engaging with the attendees! Here is one (1) such Tweet:

Thom and I also build, maintain, and use slide decks via cloud. As such, we can each access and edit slide decks during the event that we may use during the event. (I can be changing smaller slide decks from the back of the room while Thom is in the middle of moderating a deep debate.) We can keep a log of the books, blogs, authors, and papers...on a PowerPoint or Keynote slide. We then project that perpetually-growing slide during breaks or towards the end of the event. It serves as a digital version of the flip-chart, Post-It pad, or whiteboard in the previous paragraph.

What I like about the digital version is that it can allow for us to share it as a resource via email to attendees after the event. We can easily include links to blogs or books. This took me less than two (2) minutes, as an example:

If we have enough downtime, we can pluck images off the internet and create a collage of book covers on slides. Attendees gravitate to take photos of those slides during breaks. Here is a slide I just made in less than five (5) minutes, as an example:

So in short, help your audiences collect these book recommendations during your event. Don't make them figure it all out on-the-fly. Tell them how you'll be documenting resources for them and how the list will be available or shared. It frees up the distractions. They'll appreciate the help so they can stay focused. It's something small that can have big impact.

And let's face pretty much have a list in the back of your mind of resources that are going to be mentioned anyways, right? So get this started ahead of time!

This practice will enhance not only their classroom experience, but their after-journey too.


Aside from writing on a variety of topics, I publish a column of blog posts under the label Presentation Hack. Check them out for ideas, tips, and tricks to better public speaking or classroom experiences!


Lou Hayes, Jr. is a criminal investigations & intelligence unit supervisor in a suburban Chicago police department. With a passion for training, he studies human performance & decision-making, creativity, emotional intelligence, and adaptability. Follow Lou on Twitter at @LouHayesJr or on LinkedInHe also maintains a LinkedIn page for The Illinois Model.


Popular posts from this blog

Presentation Hack: Your Last Slide(s)

Presentation Hack: "For those of you who don't know me..."

The Generalist versus The Specialist