YPI National Event | Picture by Fraser Band Photography 

‘Imagination is more important than knowledge.’ Albert Einstein

Whenever we are out visiting schools the topic of creativity is never far from discussions.  Creativity is central to the YPI programme throughout, whether that be during the research process or developing an innovative business case with respects the YPI Grant.  Most often, creativity within YPI Presentations is the hot topic of discussion and the following blog pulls together ideas and best practice observed at recent YPI Finals . . . This may well help your students on their way towards producing an original and engaging presentation.

Audience Participation

There is no better way to engage your audience than to actively involve them in your presentation.  This is of course an entertaining approach, but also allows you to bring the subject matter to life.

Volunteers:  There are many ways to involve a judge or audience member in a creative and insightful way.  Again this is an opportunity to bring your social issue to life.  For example: you may ask a volunteer to sit in a wheelchair to experience some everyday challenges; you could blindfold a volunteer and ask them to navigate a series of obstacles by instruction; or ask a volunteer to wear adapted spectacles to experience visual impairment.

Other ideas include giving a volunteer a small whiteboard and asking them to estimate share their understanding of an issue, before sharing the actual facts.  For example, you volunteer could estimate the cost of a key piece of equipment or the prevalence of a specific issue or health condition.  Usually three questions are enough to highlight public ignorance without completely humiliating the volunteers /judges.  The audience love it.

Cards/Statistics:  This is a really effective example to use when you’re trying to illustrate the scale or prevalence of a particular social issue.  This may involve handing out cards at random to the audience or taping cards under a set number of chairs, before asking all audience members with a card to stand up.  This immediately provides a very visual representation of the issue at hand.  For example, 1:3 of the audience stands up to illustrate the number of people who will be affected by cancer at some point in their life; 1:5 of the audience stands up to illustrate the number of young people in Scotland affected by poverty.

Quiz:  This is a really simple way to incorporate an entertaining and familiar style within your presentation.  Drawing inspiration from popular formats such as Pointless and Mastermind, and using simple sound effects and props, a ‘quiz master’ can guide content with good questions, whilst ‘contestants’ provide information with their answers.

“One presentation began with a student playing her flute while a fellow team member performed a gymnastic routine.  It only lasted a minute or so and at the end they said, “We take it for granted that we have the opportunities to learn to play a musical instrument or take part in gymnastics or sport but there are some young people, the disabled and those with mental health difficulties who don’t have access to these activities. The charity we are supporting provides these opportunities…”


A common sight at any YPI School Final is a group of students, stood in a row, tightly clutching their note cards, reading to the audience, with a PowerPoint presentation in the background.  Although a good starting point, this approach so often lacks any sense of performance and rarely engages the audience in a meaningful way.  Here’s some interesting additions that we’ve come across:

Live Performance: Use of drama, music, role play, poetry, rap or songs consistently add value and help presentations stand out.  This could include the performance of an emotive song, combined with a slide show of relevant images or quotes.  A number of recent presentations have also included a song or rap written and performed by a member of the presenting team.  A role play or drama can bring to life an issue so effectively.  Likewise a mock TV or radio interview also works very well (including optional quirky adverts).

Props:  Use of props supports curiosity and draws attention.  This might include specialist equipment, for example an RNLI life jacket with a price tag hanging off, or a ‘first-responder’ pack.  Use of props can also be very simple, for example using an actual pie instead of a pie chart, with different sized slices of pie representing a charities costs, income, expenditure, etc.  Balloons have also been used to good effect, for example an audience was recently asked to close their eyes and wait for a balloon to be burst; the balloon wasn’t burst and the audience were asked questions about how they felt (e.g. anxious, nervous, scared); these feelings were then likened to how a victim of domestic violence feels when living with an abusive partner.  Simple.

Video & Animation:  The use of student generated, filmed interviews and video diaries works consistently well by providing insight with respects the student research process and experience of visiting the charity. The best video is not only creative but highly effective in taking the audience to the heart of the issue.

Presentations that incorporate some form of animation are also received well, whether that’s stop motion animation using plasticine, models/figures or Lego, hand drawn animation using time-lapse or flick-books, or digitally generated animation using apps such as Stop Motion Studio.

Confident Spoken Voice:  This still remains a powerful way to get your message across, particularly where teams are well rehearsed, demonstrate clearly how their presentation meets the judging criteria, and engage the whole audience with eye contact and good use of body language.  Sharing a personal link to a social issue or charity often adds additional depth and passion to the presentation, which can be effectively shared through good story telling.

Use of PowerPoint/Prezi:  Many teams use PowerPoint sparingly and, therefore, more effectively.  Indeed, there is often a debate around any use of PowerPoint, with the most effective examples focused on sharing basic information and imagery that purely compliments what is being said.  Many schools limit use to three slides with a word limit on each.  Others will restrict its use to the ‘absolutely necessary’ or images only.  For example, one team all of whom had dyslexia, showed what words on a page looked like for each them – each page was different (words splitting up, words running into each other, words fading out, words with distorted shapes, etc.) and illustrated clearly why they wouldn’t be using any other slides with words.  In another case, the team explained that they weren’t going to use PowerPoint because one of their group was visually impaired and couldn’t see it.

Good luck, we look forward to all of our upcoming YPI finals.

Remember, be engaging, be creative and be convincing!