Man is a tool-using animal. Without tools he is nothing, with tools he is all.

Thomas Carlyle (1795—1881)
Scottish philosopher and satirical writer

Have you ever seen a demonstration where people move through the streets with screens and laptops? Well, me neither. There are many good reasons to use traditional presentation tools. Banners, posters and white boards are not out-dated. Depending on the occasion and the purpose they might be the better choice:

  • Extremely short presentations with focus on one or two issues.
  • To accompany a permanent exhibition in a building (giving a presenting while walking with the group is a very nice alternative to more static alternatives by the way: nobody will be sleeping as walking stimulates the brain. It also offers more opportunities for interaction).
Paper vs. electronic? The more channels of communication you address, the better for the different types of learners.
Paper vs. electronic? The more channels of communication you address, the better for the different types of learners.

You can achieve a more personal or even emotional effect by staying away from electronic equipment. In addition, any electronic medium is liable to experience unexpected problems due to load shedding, crashed hard disks or corrupted files. So if you do choose to make your presentation using electronic media, it’s good to have back-up solutions:

  • Have print versions of your most important graphs.
  • Be flexible and develop the same content on a flip chart.
  • Have a second laptop on standby in case the main one fails.
  • Also make sure you can borrow a second data projector if necessary.
  • Always have a spare bulb for your data projector.
Flipchart can be used in many more ways than just writing.
Flipchart can be used in many more ways than writing and presenting.

Don’t underestimate the damage done to your data projector by load shedding. These special bulbs need to cool down properly and every immediate shutdown reduces their lifetime significantly. The bulbs are expensive (ca. USD 400) and hard to get. As such, it’s advisable in countries with irregularities in their power grid to have the data projector attached to an Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS).

Additionally, it’s useful to give handouts on which you have compiled the most important facts. We recommend giving them out after your presentation, as participants will start to read and stop listening. Furthermore, it will reduce the possibility for surprises.

Nonetheless, electronic presentations offer some advantages:

  • Brings together text, images, films and audio files in one medium.
  • Cost-effectiveness (if you already have a computer and projector available).

Moderator Box

Always ready for a quick grip: the moderator box.
Always ready for a quick grip: the moderator box.

The moderator box or bag is your toolbox as moderator like a toolbox for a mechanic. Instead of screwdrivers and wrenches you’ll find markers and cards.

Suitcase, box or bag? That’s a question of personal preference. You can purchase complete sets already filled with all the necessary equipment for example at in Germany. So far, we haven’t seen any of these pre-prepared moderator kits available in many other countries. But as you have learned to turn weaknesses into strengths, in those countries you have the advantage of having things produced according to your own wishes and at a much cheaper price.

The requirements are that a certain set of material (there is a complete list of suggested content in the Annex) should fit in. All of it must be easy and quickly accessible — without wasting time searching for it! Additionally, it should be convenient to transport without the material getting mixed up during journey.

Of course the suitcase must be checked before the workshop — not five minutes before but at least two days, which allows you to replace dried-out markers or glue sticks and refill the required number of cards.

Boards and Flip charts

Boards and flip charts are universal and practical tools for presentations. You can prepare sheets with different content, develop content step by step during the presentation or work with the participants.

Foldable boards are the multipurpose tool of choice.
Foldable boards are the multipurpose tool of choice.

Results can be attached to the walls of a seminar room. While data projectors usually only show one screen, with boards and flip charts you can suddenly have a multitude of ‘screens’. You can ‘walk the talk’, i.e. — walking from one sheet to another. This is much less tiring for participants than gazing all the time at the same screen.

Like suitcases, boards are not available to buy in Pakistan. So far, we haven’t found anyone who is able to produce foldable, lightweight aluminium boards. We would be delighted for any tips on where to get them! So far, we have had to import them from Germany. Different shops offer a variety of boards, e.g.

The requirements are that they are light, foldable and easy to transport. You should be able to stick cards and papers to them with pins. A bag protects the boards from dirt and weather.

The boards can be used for multiple purposes, e.g. the Metaplan® technique, for display of poster or just simply as separators.

Principles of working

Writing on a flip chart or board is dangerous for the moderator, as he might lose the group. If you turn your back to the participants and they can’t see what’s happening, they will start to discuss private issues, lose interest or do other things. The better you are prepared the less this will happen. What you need in writing should be mainly written before the workshop. You just take the prepared cards