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Presenting the Pitches

The Innovators began today with a visit to Boston University. There, they toured the BUild Lab, a collaborative student space dedicated to creative innovation. In the BUild Lab, the Innovators not only gained a sense of the atmosphere at Boston University, but also learned more about the importance of a space dedicated to communication and collaboration, allowing for cooperative, groundbreaking projects.

The Innovators tested this collaboration, in fact, by interacting one-on-one with current students at Boston University that have started their own company. To successfully create something with cutting-edge ingenuity, you must be willing to engage in productive conversation with others.

The Innovators interact at the BUild Lab

The Innovators interact at the BUild Lab

Then, they headed to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, where they engaged in a session on visual thinking strategies (VTS). The museum was created by a wealthy benefactress in the early twentieth century who, upon being inspired by her vibrant travels and love for art, dedicated her life to creating an intellectual, artistic haven for all members of society to enjoy.

Some VTS facilitation elements include silent looking, asking three main questions, paraphrasing, pointing, staying neutral, linking comments, and avoiding summary, ending by thanking the group. These questions include:

  1. What’s going on?

  2. What is happening that makes me think that?

  3. What more can we find?

Visual thinking strategies can help to analyze artistic works. When approaching a complex, abstract painting, it helps to dissect the work from a detached, clinical purview; to break it down in all of its separate components and identify its setting, subjects, objects, and mood. The students tried out these methods with famous paintings, including one by Salvador Dalí—his famous Persistence of Memory.

After practicing visual thinking strategies in the classroom, the students headed to the galleries. There, they facilitated visual thinking discussions with real relics from the collection at the Gardner Museum—paintings, tapestries, and even the ethereal indoor garden intended to evoke thoughts of Venice.

The breathtaking Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

The breathtaking Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

After the museum, the Innovators took the train back to Suffolk, where they engaged in sessions intended to improve their presentations—helpful seminars intended to prepare them for the upcoming Challenge on Thursday.

First came a session with Flavia Ibanez on designing a presentation. Successful, engaging presentations minimize content actively onscreen, highlighting main points with visuals rather than overwhelming them.

Content should be simplified not only in the presentation, but also as an overall concept. Moreover, the content should not appear onscreen—rather, its focal points should be exemplified, provided in helpful, simplistic bullet points. When in doubt, Flavia advises, always refer to the cardinal rule of presentations: less is more.

The Innovators practiced their Challenge presentations in front of the group as Flavia offered personal, one-on-one constructive criticism to help them better their pitches and raise their chances for eventual success. 

Then came a lecture from Chuck Goldstone on creating an effective pitch. The Innovators once again gave practice presentations, with Chuck interjecting to offer suggestions, teaching a lesson not only to the individual groups, but also to the class at large. 

The interactive sessions are where the students have a chance to experiment and truly learn. A good pitch is concise and engaging—in addition to giving tips on how to improve their presentations, Chuck advised the Innovators on how best to conduct themselves. They learned to stay animated but minimize their unnecessary movements. 

The Innovators finished the day collaborating on the Challenge, taking Chuck and Flavia’s recommendations to heart. Only three days left!

Emerson Monks