Use Your Power(points) for Good, not Evil!

Many of you are using PowerPoint slides to support implementation of BPBR or MPC. We’re seeing a lot of positive uses of PowerPoint, but also some uses that concern us. So your TA Team brainstormed a few DOs and DON’Ts for your consideration.

DO use PowerPoint:

  • To help you keep the program on point and structured. Having PowerPoint slides up in the background of the action can help you and participants stay on track.
  • To display instructions for an activity so that you don’t have to repeat the instructions 40 times!
  • To make images – such as birth control methods — more visible (but see below about STDs!)
  • To reinforce messages or information – displaying answers to certain activities, such as Calling Koko or condom use steps.

DON’T use PowerPoint:

  • To replace interacting with participants. Think about how you feel when you’re in a workshop and the presenter starts reading a lot of text from PowerPoint slides. Personally, we’d prefer to stick our collective head under a blanket and have a nice nap. PowerPoint is usually not very engaging! Your interaction with young people, and theirs with you and with each other, is what makes the program engaging. When programs are less interactive, they’re less effective, too.
  • For group agreements. The group agreements should be brainstormed together, and posted where they can be seen and referenced at each session–a great technique for keeping group sessions on track (PDF). Putting them on a PowerPoint slide as part of a longer presentation keeps them hidden from view for most of the session.
  • For brainstorming. You don’t want to pre-fill a slide representing a brainstorm–that could undermine the participants’ sense that what they say matters. We recommend sticking to good, old-fashioned flip charts. If you can’t use a flip chart, project a blank page (such as a Word document) for the brainstorm and type the ideas in, then return to the PowerPoint when the brainstorm text is no longer needed.
  • To project photos of STDs. Gross and scary photos of STDs may get a big reaction from participants, but are not effective as a way to motivate healthy behaviors in the long run (see #3 in this ETR post for more on this topic). They also shame and stigmatize people who have STDs.

In short, PowerPoint can be helpful as a supplement, keeping things moving where you want them to go, but your students will thank you if you do NOT use them as a primary teaching tool.

Friendly reminder: Using PowerPoint is an adaptation, so be sure to run it by your TA support person.


– Divine, Beth, Michele, Heather, & Jutta

2 thoughts on “Use Your Power(points) for Good, not Evil!”

  1. Some of the health teachers we work with want images of STDs in the power point. Some even like it when images of STDs are passed around the classroom. What do we do about that?

  2. It sounds like the health teachers need to hear more about the reasons we discourage the use of STD images.
    By using very graphic images for STDs we make the assumption that young people will change their attitudes and behavior if they are exposed to messages and images that shock them and evoke fear.
    Such messages might grab young people’s attention but research indicates that messages designed to arouse anxiety or fear in young people are almost always ineffective in changing behavior long term.
    One researcher suggests that fear approaches may have a poor impact on behavior because young people are more likely to focus on potential gains than potential losses. They may also think that it won’t happen to them.
    Repeated exposure to graphic pictures is likely to desensitize them. It does not support them to improve skills or to make better decisions.
    Finally, we do not want to stigmatize or shame them, in case they have contracted an STD.
    A better and more effective way is to increase young people’s knowledge and teach relevant skills.

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