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Presentations & Conversations

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David Pollard always amazes me with his vast domain, consistent messages and regular posts with proper depth and breath. In one of his recent post “That’s Not What I Meant” Pollard demonstrates the ineffectiveness of one way presentations for knowledge retention. His observation –

Regardless of the length of a presentation, audience members will recall no more than one important message or significant finding from a presentation, and, unless it is reinforced later, will forget even that one message or finding in about one week. They’ll retain impressions about the speaker, but not what was said.

He also came up with tips, for example

The only time a majority of the audience agrees on what the important messages or findings were, is when one or more of the following occurs:
•the message/finding is emphasized at the very beginning and/or very end of the presentation
•there is significant two-way conversation about the message/finding during the presentation
•the message/finding is said repeatedly during the presentation, ideally by more than one person
•the message/finding is conveyed by means of a story, joke, example or anecdote

nt slides with bullets, artwork & photos don’t help understanding or retention. Charts, tables and ‘top 10′ lists can help, but only if they’re simple, elegant, compelling, useful to keep, and properly explained.

Now days everyone is riding the “Rapid e-Learning” (Macromedia Breeze et. all) bandwagon. I too believe the power of those tools (browser based PowerPoint wrapped in Flash with Voice and navigation) for quick dissemination of information. But we need to be careful about this one-way symptom taking from face-to-face to online.

Pollards observation on conversation:
conversations are as useless a medium for effective intellectual communication as presentations.
More collectables-
Conversations would, I think, be much more effective if we had a ritual of having each conversant state upfront what their personal objective for the conversation is. I appreciate that in some cases this must be done tactfully: “I’ve wanted to meet you since Mr. A told me that you… “, or “I’m looking for some help with…” In the absence of such a protocol, a lot of initial conversations exhaust an enormous amount of participants’ energy trying to figure this out tacitly.

ching online chat (the only written medium that in my opinion is fast and immediate enough to really qualify as ‘conversation’) and listening to young people especially talk, what people seem to want most from conversation with friends is reassurance. Everyone is always fishing for compliments and confirmation, and, unless and until they clearly know and trust the offerer very well, dubious of the offerer’s motivation when they get them. Few people, it seems, are really looking for advice, debate, or ‘constructive criticism’ in a conversation. But many seem enthusiastic to offer these things anyway!

Written by anol

May 1st, 2004 at 11:55 am

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