Creative Remote Collaboration with PowerPoint

Creative usage of Office365

In times which are dominated by COVID-19 I wanted to share how to use Office365 (or Goole, if you have it) for remote workshops. I want to propose tools which are easily available and easy to share. Therefore, these two come to mind. Of course there is much more out there, but in the corporate world many choices are blocked. For sure SMEs have a tactical advantage at the moment, since they often don’t have such strict policies in place.

PPT is back

Nevertheless, every knowledge worker has now the chance to be creative and find alternative use cases for collaboration software. My personal highlight: PowerPoint 365!

Believe it or not, I see a chance for a renaissance for this tool that killed so many productive office work hours in the past.

As a starting point, stop thinking of PowerPoint as a presentation program. Think of it as an eternal flip chart or whiteboard. With this perspective you can see PowerPoint as an endless series of slides that can be used as a digital sheet for co-creative sessions.

Example: A few days ago I had to facilitate a product vision workshop with 10 colleagues, distributed over 5 locations. For this purpose I set up a clean white template and prepared the whole sequence. The whole workshop relied heavily on a Brain Writing session. Instead of using pens and paper I prepared 10 slides which have enough space for 10 sentences. All in all I wanted to give the team the space to create a total of 100 ideas – in about 35 minutes. I setup a file in Powerpoint 365 that can be edited by each member of the team. Everybody got the same editing rights.

Structure of the PowerPoint Template

  • Welcome
  • Prelude: Why a Vision?
  • Introduction into the Brain Writing session
  • Run the session
  • Voting (per * behind a favorite sentence, each participant got three * which could be freely distributed. Either all * on one sentence, etc.)
  • Create a top three list (per Copy’n’Paste)
  • Debate and Conversation
  • Decision Making

Other usages for PowerPoint: Any kind of canvas, visual plan or matrix could be used. Tip: put the canvas in the master template/background of a slide. Then it is easier to work with forms or text fields.

One could extend this idea also to Excel 365, if you have to work on numbers or artifacts which should be organized as a table. Again: There are many more ways how you can use these two tools to tackle remote collaboration for typical workshop situations. Obviously, one should also use Teams (or Slack). The possibility to split up a large team into rooms is a fantastic feature to enable working groups.

One small remark from the facilitator role: After such an online working session in a document you have the documentation already done. Nothing to photograph and share. It is all there 😉 For sure there are more tools available – just wanted to give you an example how this situation can be used to find creative solutions for frictionless remote collaboration.

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