Thursday, December 15, 2011

Please stop!!

Yesterday morning my wife told me there would been a talk about my home country and encouraged me to go. It was part of the "Public Colloquium — Area Studies and Political Order" at the local university. So yesterday afternoon I headed to the venue and arrived 15 minutes early thinking it would be good to get a seat on the back. I was surprised I was the first attendee and that the speaker hadn't arrived. That was the first signal of what was about to come.

Earlier that day I had been having trouble with my phone, so tried to fix it while waiting for the lecture to start.  People started coming in and two minutes before five o'clock the speaker arrived, another bad signal. I guess it was naive from me to think the lecture would start at the announced time, it is Germany after all. When he arrived he looked more like a boxer going into a fight than like a lecturer, he barely smiled or greeted the audience. He got the LCD projector running and fired up his visuals. His only interaction with the audience was asking a couple why they didn't speak Spanish. It sounded more like an objection than like a question. I imagined the lecturer was nervous, and that's why he acted like that.

The next bad signal was a misspelled word on the title. Instead of the word "production" he wrote "producción". He quickly reviewed his visuals, which surprisingly were few for a two hour lecture, and they weren't that bad.  As he reviewed, he kept looking at his notes —a thick stack of A4 sheets of paper— and I finally picked up that he was been introduced. It was 5:15 pm.

The moderator did an average job, which looked fitting and proper, for the occasion was informal. After my 30 minute wait the lecture started. His English was poor. After thanking the university officials for the invitation he started by reading what I thought was a quote, so I didn't think about it that much. The "quote" was his first visual so the audience was able to read along. But when the last words of the text were something like "...and this is what my talk is going to be about." I knew the lecture would suck rotten eggs. It wasn't a quote, it was a fragment of his lecture. Oh, and did I mention he stayed on his seat?

I realized his plan was to read the whole two hours. The problem was I didn't understand the words he uttered, and much less their meaning. He was a poor reader and had clearly not even rehearsed reading his lecture. After having reading his introduction and pointing out his talk would be divided in three part, he turned to the next slide, a shown a diagram that he told us was important. By then, I was already heading to the door. I was sorry for the other people who had to stay.

This is where I think he failed:
  • If the announced time was 5 pm, the talk such have started at 5 pm.
  • He missed the opportunity to connect with the audience before the lecture by greetings them at the entrance and showing enthusiasm. He could have asked people how they got to know about the talk, what their expectations were,  and what their background of the subject was.  He could have "warmed up the crow."
  • He should have spell-checked his visuals.
  • He should have thought more thoroughly about his language skills and whether reading the lecture would have been the best way to pass the information.
  • He should have stood up and shown presence.
  • He should have prepared and rehearsed.
I did learn that valuable lesson, when attending a talk try to find a seat that was easy access to the exit, because every now and then you might also want to leave earlier than planned.

No comments:

Post a Comment