We learn by engaging, asking questions, getting our heads around an issue, right? Then why are conferences full of one way presentations?
I clipped this article over a year ago and was re-reading it today, called Presentations vs Discussions. In it, Fred Wilson makes the case that those exceptional class room experiences, those board room meetings that really change the direction of the company, those conferences where the light bulb really goes on, are not the result of presentation, but – to use my language – participation.
A presentation is like a TV show. It’s a lean back experience. A discussion is like an online chat room. It is a lean forward experience. They are not the same thing and in many cases they work against each other.
And then concludes
Presentations are important. I do a lot of them and post all of them on this blog in advance. I am not saying they don’t have a role. But if you want to foster real engagement and real discussion, they are not helpful and in fact I think they are hurtful.
What’s really great about the post is the 145 comments that proceed the blog post – the participation after the presentation, as it were. And thus this gets me thinking. We need presentation and participation. Presentation sets the scene and gets everyone up to speed, but it’s participation where the learning takes place – because as we say, if you’re not talking your’re not learning.
I’ve always made an effort here to encourage participation and it’s been my delight to engage in some wonderful relationships as a result of it. But I’m aware that it wouldn’t have happened unless I had presented something to begin with.
On another note, I’m aiming to change the design of this blog a bit to help make it easier to both get hold of the presentations here, and more importantly, participate.
Your Leading Thoughts
- What is the balance between presentation and participation? 50/50? Dependent on context? Variable?
- How do you minimise a presentation to the essentials in order to get the participation underway?