These boots were made for presentin’ | A presentation activity

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I designed this creative visualisation activity on a project where it was ultimately not used and I’ve got permission to share it here. It could potentially be included in a workshop on presentation skills or as a stand-alone activity run in a team huddle or meeting.

Have you ever used creative visualisation? What sort of visual imagery do you incorporate?


Overview

Creative visualisation may help presenters manage their nerves through calming visual imagery, a technique borrowed from acting. This particular activity also uses shoes as metaphors for qualities associated with confident presenters. The technique can be used to calm nerves before a presentation. It puts presenters in a positive mind frame by focusing the inner voice on something productive instead of negative self-talk.

The handout offers a range of visualisation prompts because different people have different sources of anxiety and they’ll need to find a visualisation that works for them. Each visualisation begins with putting on a pair of ‘inner’ shoes and ends with a destination or goal that represents success.

Objective

  • Use creative visualisation as a way of managing nerves just before a presentation.

Procedure

  • Pair off participants and ask them to look at the shoes in the handout and suggest how wearing these different types of shoes might make them feel.
  • Point out to participants that wearing ‘inner’ shoes could potentially boost their confidence in a presentation.
  • Get them to discuss the sorts of situations they would want to wear these inner shoes in. For example, you are nervous and you feel really cold and stiff at the start of a presentation at an industry meet. Imagining yourself in football cleats might help you kick your presentation off with some energy. Some possible responses are given below.
  • Ask participants to recall a presentation where they experienced some nervousness. Get them to close their eyes and talk them through the following creating visualisation:

Your presentation starts in 5 minutes. Your mind is racing and you can’t focus because you are thinking about a million things. You reach out grab on a pair of your inner flip-flops and put them on. Feel the tension melt away from your body. Relax your shoulders. Take deep breaths. When you feel your breathing starting to slow, let your hands hang loose by your side. You’re walking on a soft sandy beach. Feel the sand between your toes. You hear waves in the distance. You look up and see a calm blue sea stretching out in front of you. As the tide goes out, you walk towards the rising sun on the horizon.

  • Have participants work in pairs to look through the other visualisation prompts in the toolkit and choose one that they find useful. Participants then practise the creative visualisation prompt with their partners. Encourage them to add details that make the visualisation feel more real.

Debrief

  • Use the following questions to debrief the activity:
    • Why is this kind of visualisation useful when you’re nervous?
    • Our inner voices sometimes trigger nervousness through negative self-talk. How does the visualisation of ‘inner’ shoes help with this?
    • Why does each visualisation end with a destination or a goal?

Suggested responses 

  1. Flip-flops: relaxed, casual, calm
  2. Sneakers: comfortable, easy-going
  3. Rain boots/wellingtons: persistent, determined
  4. Cowboy boots: self-assured, poised, strong
  5. Football/soccer cleats: dynamic, active, energetic
  6. Hiking boots: adventurous, daring

Download the handout from the following link ⬇️

Image attribution: Photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash

Illustrations from images | Shapes in Adobe Capture

Adobe capture

Here’s a quick post about an app I’ve just started exploring. Adobe Capture is a free smartphone app with in-app camera that lets you do a lot of really interesting graphic design edits. I’ve been looking at the ‘shapes’ function which converts images into pen and ink-type illustrations. Here are some examples of things I took pictures of.

Shape 4

Shape 1

Shape 2 (1)

What’s interesting is that it does a pretty good job with fairly complex objects with lots of details and contours like this statue.

The app is fairly intuitive but here are the steps I followed to convert some keys on my kitchen counter. You can get rid of the background and any other distractions (you can see my shadow in the first couple of images) using a combination of the contrast slider and the wand. Any bits and bobs that are left can be erased. A smoothing function will make things look regular – in this case it actually gets rid of some nice details so you’ll need to play around to get the best results.

The final image gets saved as an SVG file in your own Adobe library but you can export it as an SVG or PNG file. Although I haven’t quite figured out how – you can also export assets as vectors which could be really useful.

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These illustrations would look quite nice in print materials and create a cohesive visual look across say a participant guide, addressing issues associated with printing colour images in black and white. They could also work well in online layouts to create a minimalist course look.

Adobe Capture is available for iOS and Android phones.

Pseudo-design titles | A UX activity

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This quick activity uses Pseudo-design titles, a website that lampoons the often florid and bombastic job titles people have in the UX/design industry. It could be used with learners  who are heading into a design/technology focused degree or  more generally with business learners.


  • Ask learners to work in pairs to discuss the designations or job titles they would like to have when they start working.
  • Get learners to access designtitles.com on their phones. The site randomly generates job titles so everyone’s likely to get a different title.
  • Learners work in groups to discuss what these job titles imply and how this might be different from the sort of work they might actually do. For example, ‘an analyst of archetypal visuals’ sounds like a role that involves innovative work but might in fact be someone who selects stock visuals from an existing image bank.  A ‘multidisciplinary convincer of futuristic predictions’ could be a sales and marketing person.
  • Lead the learners in a discussion about why people try to bolster their ‘value proposition’ with exotic job titles and the impact of this. Ask learners to identify other ways of enhancing their value to prospective employees or within a job.

I have to confess that not all of the titles make sense but some of them are hilarious. Which one of these would you want to have for yourself? Have you come across similar job titles in your professional context?

  • Chief Assassin of Colours
  • Neural Arranger of Visualization
  • Whiteboarder of Quintessential States and Post-Human Practices
  • Arbitrator of Design
  • Cognitive Designer of Theoretical Ideas
  • Stimulist for Accessibility
  • Explorer for Heuristic Best Practices
  • User State Mentor

The image in this post is sourced from https://designtitles.com/ and I found out about the site from a tweet by Ajay Pangarkar (@bizlearningdude).

 

Effective decision making | Session materials

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Here are some more materials I developed on the ITDI course – Creating ELT Materials with Katherine Bilsborough. The assignment brief was to design wrap-around materials with short authentic texts. I chose four tweets by an American facilitator and performance consultant, Thiagi on decision making. Thiagi often tweets pithy messages on a variety of management and leadership issues. The original materials had screenshots of his tweets but I wanted to get permission before I circulated them more widely. Unfortunately, I haven’t heard back so I’ve replaced the screenshots with QR codes and links.

The context of this 60 minute session is effective decision making and it explores language for giving advice and decision making. Learners will gets lots of opportunities to speak in pairs and groups and will also write an email and a tweet.

You can download the handout from this link.

Image attribution: Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

An allegorical map of training | A reflection activity

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In the 18th and 19th centuries, allegorical maps of love, courtship and marriage were very popular. Here’s a map of matrimony.

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You’ll find some more examples here. In this reflection activity, participants create their own allegorical map of teaching.

Objective

  • To encourage facilitators to reflect on how they see training as a practice and a profession.

Materials

  • An example of a historical allegorical map (they’re all in the public domain) or perhaps one that you’ve drawn.

Procedure

  • Show an example of an allegorical map such as the one above.
  • Ask participants to draw and label their own allegorical maps of teaching.
  • Encourage participants to share their maps with each other and compare similarities and difference.
  • Get them to reflect on why their maps look the way they do and if they would want their maps to look different.

Extended reflection 

  • Ask participants to take pictures of their maps and revisit them after 3 months or 6 months. Are there any new islands or terrain they’d like to add to their maps? What do these represent? How did these changes come about?

NB: This activity hasn’t been road tested yet. I did create my own allegorical map – I’m not sure I’m ready to share it yet. It’s turned out a bit dark – something for me to reflect on?!

Paring back | Paragraph blogging

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I’ve been watching Civilisations, a lush BBC series about how art has shaped the human experience. In an episode on Japan, the viewer is introduced to Maruyama Okyo’s masterpiece from the late 18th century – Cracked Ice – a painted two-fold screen ostensibly intended for tea ceremonies. Its format and minimalism seem characteristically Japanese and yet elements such as the use of perspective and a vanishing point show the influence of the West. I reflected on this in the context of my teaching. I get very excited by ideas I encounter. I want to try everything but this sometimes results in overstuffed lessons and more critically, a strange pastiche that doesn’t really give learners a cohesive learning experience. As I acquire and adapt ideas and tools, I need to learn to pare back like Okyo and focus on what’s really important and let innovation emerge from what I haven’t articulated in my lesson plan, those  blank spaces I rush to fill.

Image attribution: Maruyama Okyo, Cracked ice, a 2-fold screen painting | British Museum | CC BY-NC-SA 4.0