December 12, 2007

Presenting to a Panel

Having presented to a plenty of academic panels on various occasions, I'd like to sum up a few observations.

1. Enthusiasm sells. 'Own the floor.' Speedy talking, lack of clarity and unexpected passages -- the cost of it all is in no comparison to a benefit of owning people's attention. You get a chance of presuasion and breaking through their objections. Objections are guaranteed, it's what academics do for a living. In most cases, they wont' know you and will have their own personal projections too.

It's like working as a trader in finanical markets, you won't get in trouble for a good bull decision - you are supporting the market.

2. They ask the wrong questions or put the questions in the wrong form. It's a tradition. Example: "How do you apply 'the best practice' in management development?" Don't be dubbed by form of the question: it aims you away from a direction they desire. Tell a story rather than generalise on 'best practices'. Beware though, 'telling a story' in response to a formal question highlights meaningless of the question.

3. "They know nothing!" -- I enjoy writing this. It's actually a quote from Jim Cramer of CNBC, which you can find here, on the Cramer's Sound Board. He passionately described how the U.S. Federal Reserve was doing with an ongoing credit crunch.

This is true for more than a few reasons. First, you present out of your own universe of your context and experience about which they might not be even aware. Second, most often they wouldn't know of those advanced theories, models, simulations or have their own interpretations of them. Third, they are typically 'lost in content' and just swim around in all details and content, with no strategies for Learning II (e.g., learning how to learn). It's hard to learn, when your 'map of the world' is always implicit. There is more: no explicit learning strategies of making knowledge behavioural and, of course, they will resist if you make them to do so.



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