Presentation as Conversation

I know I am repeating thoughts written elsewhere recently, but another great a ha from the week here in Vancouver has been participating in conference sessions that were conducted primarily in conversational mode, in engagement with an audience, as opposed to the traditional mode of presentation as lecture, inflicted onto an audience.

This is just just trying to pat the backs of myself and colleagues Brian, Scott, D’Arcy, Jason for the sessions we did at UBC and at NorthernVoice— there was a great round of discussion in Nancy White’s session on Community Building, and the approach Kris Krug did at Moosecamp for the sessions on Digital Photography. These were all ones where the audience played as much as part as the conveners. Where we were invited to be part of the show, not dulled with ti being hit over our heads.

Don’t take me as saying all presentations need to be done Kum Ba Ya style, but we certainly do better in this social-software everyone-participates citizen-journalism environment than letting one person dictate on and on and on.

And if you must take the lectern, and if you must drill us with powerpoint, please, please, please heed Levine’s Law: START WITH THE DEMO! — do not use 90% of the time for background, rationale, theory, reference, pictures of your kids, yadda yadda, get to the stinkin’ demo! Show us the demo! Excite us, entice us, but please do not be playing Killing Me Softly With Bullet Points. There has been sufficient carnage already.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at CogDogBlog.com on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as @cogdog@cosocial.ca


  1. Hilarious and right-on. Another musical bark!

    The key to a great conversation, of course, is that everyone there has their game head on. Everyone comes to play. That depends on a sense of shared commitment, of urgency, of occasion. How can we create these in our classrooms? in our courses of study? And the responsibility must be shared: “engage me or enrage me” works both ways….

  2. I couldn’t agree more with your point about “show me something” right at the start. Let’s see what you are going to be talking about. In lieu of that tell me an interesting story or set it up with articles that show a trend – anything but 10-15 of who you are, how many students go to your IHE, etc. You may be interested in taking a look at this:

  3. Great post, Alan. Bring on the campfire songs! If we value face-to-face time, we NEED to be using it for something better than sit-and-stare shovelware. I’ve been guilty (even recently) of violating Levine’s Law – by having a rather lengthy presentation FOLLOWED by a rather lengthy demo/hands-on session. Next time I do any of this, I’m going to reverse that, and maybe cut the presentation side of things waaaay down (if it’s needed at all).

    … someone’s smiling, Lord!

  4. I am scared.

    Folks, do not let Scott Leslie get ahold of your podcasts! He will remix it to a haunting techno beat! He is mad mad mad!

  5. What you are describing is facilitative learning. It takes into account the sensibilities of adults in presenting information to them.

    A local training company insists that all its trainers are facilitators. I commend to you their Master Facilitator program.

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