Earlier this week, I attended a two-day meeting in Washington D.C. for a federal grant for which I am the evaluator. Ultimately, the meeting was useful. However, I only got to that point after a day and a half of presentation after presentation.
None of the presenters came anywhere close to Presentation Zen. To be fair, though, some of the presenters were tasked with delivering procedural information; i.e. “here’s what you need to do…” The content of their presentation needed to be transmitted and I don’t even think Jerry Seinfeld could have engaged an audience around the topic.
In the case of this meeting, there was real value in the grantees coming together face-to-face. We had a lot to share with and learn from each other. However, because we had to sit through so many presentations, there was very little time for the grantees to interact.
There is a simple solution to this problem. All of the “presentations” could have been recorded/captured/archived (even with their brutally unpleasant PowerPoint slides) and posted to the Web a week or two before the meeting. There are plenty of free and REALLY easy ways to do this. Then, those attending the meetings could have watched/listened to the presentations ahead of time, but on their own time and at their own pace. The meeting time, then, could have been more interactive; i.e. there would have been much more time for Q&A and discussions. This would have maximized the face-to-face time.
I think anybody who is in the position of having to “deliver content” (in many cases, that’s simply what has to happen) should strongly consider turning that content into a Web-based, digital video. From there, the time that would otherwise have been spent with the attendees “sitting and getting” could be devoted to face-to-face discussions. Classroom teachers could do this. In fact, some innovative teachers in Colorado already do it! School principals could use this approach for faculty meetings. Imagine, my dear teacher readers, more time at a faculty meeting for some actual conversations/discussions with your colleagues.
Again, we need to maximize face-to-face time.