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close this bookCreative Training - A User's Guide (IIRR, 1998)
View the document(introduction...)
Open this folder and view contentsHow was this user's guide to creative training produced?
View the documentIt came one night...
Open this folder and view contentsBasic facilitation skills
Open this folder and view contentsTraining needs assessment
View the documentWII-FM (what's in it for me?)
Open this folder and view contentsEvaluation techniques
Open this folder and view contentsEnergizers
View the documentForming groups
View the documentCreative congratulations
View the documentRelaxers
Open this folder and view contentsMood setting exercises
Open this folder and view contentsLectures
View the documentMind mapping
View the documentCreative use of overhead projectors
View the documentSlide/photo presentations
View the documentVisual spicers
View the documentPosters as problem-posing materials
Open this folder and view contentsDrawing and chalk talk
Open this folder and view contentsSelf-expression through pictures
View the documentBody language
View the documentVisual gestural communication
View the documentShadow plays
View the documentEasy puppets
View the documentBasic theater skills
View the documentRole play
View the documentAnimated comics role play activity
View the documentFolkstorytelling: Stories come alive!
View the documentOral testimonies
View the documentLifeline
View the documentTimelines
View the documentMap-making
Open this folder and view contentsMaking and using case studies
View the documentAction research
Open this folder and view contentsField trips
Open this folder and view contentsPhysical activities as educational tools
Open this folder and view contentsGames
View the documentContact organizations
View the documentWorkshop participants
View the documentWorkshop production staff

Visual spicers

Visual spicers are pieces of large broadsheet paper displaying several pictures. They are visual aids which help any speaker to display the important ideas in a presentation.



This visual aid aims to provide a visible outline of the topic which serves as a guide while giving a talk. It also:

· Helps gain and keep audience attention or interest in the presentation.

· Secures active participation and involvement of listeners.

· Assists in using some of the mind's excess capacity to absorb information relative to the average presenter's speaking rate of only 125-145 words per minute (research shows listeners can grasp up to 250-300 words per minute).

· Permits new insights and a better, perhaps broader, perspective.

· Introduces teaching of visual ideas.


· colored or black-and-white pictures clipped from discarded magazines, calendars, posters, newspapers or brochures

· broadsheet paper or old newspapers (use classified ads section for grayish appearance)

· scissors or blade/cutter

· paste/glue

· stapler

· ruler or meter stick

· masking/transparent adhesive tape

· an easel or display board


This technique is suitable for use with small groups. A minimum skill of cutting, arranging and pasting of cutout pictures is necessary. You will need the ability to make improvised or running comments on the relationship of any of the pictures to the idea or point you are presenting to the audience and to respond to their comments. This can, however, be developed with practice.

Suggested approach

1. Gather materials that can help focus on your topic. Sort your pictures out so that you have an interesting variety of landscapes, portraits, seascapes, still life, children, animals, adults, industrial, commercial, or abstract designs on hand.

2. Cut out each picture making sure to remove all white borders and any other unwanted image or material such as words or fonts (unless you purposely need them to emphasize your point).

3. To add more "zip" or impact to your visual images, you may also decide to cut them either diagonally (left or right), vertically or horizontally.

4. Tentatively arrange your pictures on each sheet. Keep only about three to six pictures per visual. If you are satisfied with the way your pictures are grouped, paste them.



Study or observe how popular media - TV, magazines and books - present pictures and try to adapt some of their techniques to enliven your visual spicers!

Try these tips

· Crop your pictures in unusual places or parts, e.g., remove heads, hands, etc.
· Cut the pictures to any arbitrary shape and arrange them at different angles or poses.
· Combine parts of similar images having the same shapes/sizes (e.g., faces of a man and ape).
· Insert one picture within a larger picture to show contrast or relationships of meanings.
· Include comic strip balloons with appropriate remarks on the topic you're presenting.
· Extend some parts of a small picture by drawing outside its limits using a marking pen.
· Paste faces of personalities on top of sketched/cartoonized bodies.
· Overlap several small pictures of the same subjects to create a larger looking effect.
· Invert or paste some images upside-down or at oddly-placed angles.

See Poster Making, Comic Strips, Self-expression through Pictures in this manual for more ideas.

5. Arrange the sheets in their proper order for your presentation and staple the top of each sheet together so that you will be able to flip them as you give your presentation.

6. Using your presentation topic outline as a guide, select some key words or incomplete phrases and affix them on the vacant spaces of your chart. (Optional)

Variation 1

Create suspense by covering a portion or all of the parts of a picture by the use of paper attached by doubled-up masking tape. Uncover this part at the proper time during your presentation.

Variation 2

Use adhesive tape and masking tape if you want to post the charts to your walls to serve as reminders or to stress your points.

7. Make some notes along the margins of your chart by using a pencil. This will serve as reminders for you during your presentation.

8. You may also try the method of asking your participants to create their own visual spicers when they present ideas in a workshop. Of course, you have to be ready with the materials or ask them to bring their own.

9. Try to end your series of visual spicers on a positive note or hopeful expectation. This can be done with a quotation suitably backed up with the appropriate images.


· When starting your presentation, say something like:

" I will be showing you some cutout pictures that will serve to reinforce the points in my talk. Please try to think of the implications and the relationships of these pictures to the point I am explaining. Why do you think these pictures are placed together?"

· You may reinforce the edges of your visual spicers with masking tape so they will not get torn or tattered.


Your audience will pay more attention to you as you present your ideas and will stay more alert especially during the early afternoons. They may even be inclined to give you some interesting ideas in relation to the points you may be presenting.

As presenter, you will have more self-confidence and assurance that you will not miss some important points in your talk. With the passage of time, you are going to have an ever-increasing collection of helpful stand-by visual aids that you can put to instant use whenever necessary.


· Offer a sense of immediacy, vitality and dynamism that an ordinary flip chart cannot do.

· Relatively inexpensive to produce. Materials are readily available and they can easily be modified according to your presentation needs.

· Easily recycled. Rearrange the order of the sheets and change the key words to suit the topic(s) you are presenting. You do not even need electricity to give a good presentation! and spare you from worrying about any blackouts.

· Can be carried easily from one location to another - either rolled up in a tube or in a convenient giant folder improvised out of discarded cardboard boxes.


Mount your visual spicers on the back of a chair and put the chair on the table. Make sure that your visual spicers are above the heads or eye-level of your participants.



You will not be able to satisfy the varied wants, expectations and needs of your audience for "more suitable" pictures. The most frequent complaint you will probably get in using this visual is that it tends to "distract" some members of your audience from getting the main points. This may be due to the multiple images given on each sheet which will tend to pull their minds in different directions, so the focus appears to be lost.

· You might not have enough time to prepare a new grouping of pictures for each training session to emphasize your points more accurately.

· If you happen to be short, you may find it difficult to flip your charts on a tall easel.


A presentation on "How to Become a Better Manager" was given to a group of government middle-level managers in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.

After preparing the objectives and content outline for the talk, visual spicers were assembled to closely correspond in sequence with the major points to be made by the speaker.

The presentation went on without any hitches and most of the participants considered the experience as interesting and personally rewarding. They commented in favorable terms about the presentation:

"an opener in the use of recycled materials"

"a good way to secure audience attention, to promote further involvement and participant empowerment."