Last night I attended a fascinating program put on by the DC Chapter of ASTD (American Society for Training and Development. The program was titled, EducaTED and was structured similar to the famous TED Talks. A new spin on the old talking panel, we heard from 5 guest speakers, 3 of them physically present and 2 remotely engaged via video conferencing. Each speaker was given 10 minutes to share his/her thoughts on learning and development. The brief presentation was not a data dump on current research but a very personal talk about their own values and beliefs around developing self and others.
I attend quite a few professional association dinners as part of growing my network and staying current in my own development. In all honestly, most of the presentations are incredibly dull and stultifying, especially at the end of an 8 or 9 hour work day. To hear 10 minutes of personal, heartfelt advice was a refreshing change.
Am I falling into the multi-tasking trap of having a shortened attention span that I can’t focus on more than a 10 minute speech? What a disturbing thought! Some of my engagement clearly was due to the novelty of the program format. But the real value was that the speakers had to distill their thoughts down to the essence. As a program speaker myself, I usually structure what I am to say around 2 or 3 main points, illustrated by case studies, research and commentary. This format gave us the main points only, without the additional 45 to 50 minutes of examples and explanation.
I am not advocating that this format works for all topics and presentations but it is an innovative way to present information. It also leaves in your head a few key ideas to mull over in the next few days. Since my head seems deeply cluttered these days with thought overload, having distilled, cogent ideas without needless embellishment is truly a welcome relief.