How telescope toiletpaper helped to deliver a kick-ass talk: Explainables workshop at NASA FDL

As you might have read in our previous blog post we have been working with NASA frontier development lab (FDL) again this year. Following our experience from last year's Explainables workshop our job was to prepare the participants for their final presentations at the Intel auditorium in Santa Clara after 8 weeks of intense work on their various projects. This year our task was a bit easier, since the technical reviews and the final public presentations were given on different days. Therefore, we were able to focus our workshop on "TED-style" talks as well as how to effectively communicate with stakeholders, industry partners and other guests at the final event reception.

We started with a general communication and presentation workshop. There we introduced two new lectures by Explainables associate Sally Blumenthal and creative director Amran Salleh. While Sally used her background as a former Opera singer to teach about stage presence, delivery, body language and breathing, Amran focused on an introduction to good presentation layouts and techniques using his design background. We added a couple of other exercises and short lectures that were designed to help with distilling their message, storytelling and finding good analogies mixed with our signature games and activities (see gallery). We used these to

"disrupt the participants and get them out of 7 weeks of `think tank´ mode into talking mode"

as Explainable Daniel phrased it.

In our distilling exercise we asked our participant to come up with a series of emojis that describes their project. Can you guess which team is which? Check out their final presentations to find out.

Particularly well received was our Beaker Bagel exercise - this time participants Rajat and Alex had to pitch their new product "Telescope Toiletpaper" (see title image) in a Silicon Valley style TV infomercial. After our hands-on exercises we also offered a full afternoon on individual video training and consultation. We recorded each draft presentation followed by a debriefing sessions with team leaders together with the Explainables facilitators.

Read our next blog post to find out how they did in their final presentations.