In A Silent Way : The Future of Presentations?

sedlik-miles21The title is a reference to Miles Davis ‘s extraordinary piece “In a Silent Way”.

It is beautiful, fragile, fascinating. The tension is  built up very slowly, by each of the musicians who are  all intensely mindful of one another. We feel captured, raptured and taken to a blissful state…

Would you feel the same if you were attending this new form of corporate event, The Silent Conference?

This video was brought to my attention thanks to Angela Dunn, alias @BlogBrevity, via Twitter directing me to her blog post New “Silent” Multi-Presentation Conference Not Mindful of Speakers.

At first sight, it seems quite strange indeed…and even scary!

A bunch of people with headsets, switching channels and rotating their head, rolling their eyes silently from one presentation’s slides to another…
Not very different of 747 plane passengers, with a fixed menu of DVDs and music playlist they can choose from, completely indifferent to one another, but very close physically.

As I’m writing that post, I’m reminded of one of my favorite animated movie lately, another excellent Pixar movie: Wall-E.

There, the future of humanity is apocalyptic. The planet Earth is a giant bin, deprived of any form of life.The only human survivors are all on a space ship .They have become obese, boneless, passive, spending their days lying on a big “pod “connected to screens feeding them with information, commercials, food and drinks, via headsets & straws.They’re indifferent to one another, unable to even stand up and walk by themselves, glued to their screens…Does it ring a bell?


Where is Miles Davis ‘s magic?

In the silent conference imagined by Patrick Dixon, each speaker is also indifferent to the others and they even cannot actually connect with their audience, who keeps on switching. What a nightmare!

So what’s the point of setting up this sophisticated conference for happy few?

Reading the tweets from Patrick Dixon, the idea was to be innovative and to offer a solution to a problem of limited space. It only shows a part of the event, there were also plenary sessions and an exhibition area. Fair enough.

Overcoming my first negative impression, I can also see the benefits and future developments of this new tool.

  • Imagine the impact it could have, if a real dialogue was to be fostered between people sitting at the same table, and then between the tables?
  • Imagine if people were asked to immediately take action and start working in mini project teams and actively involve themselves personally ?
  • Imagine the possibilities of broadcasting this kind of event in multiple cities at the same time and also facilitating a discussion, an open forum?
    I see huge possibilities and applications ahead!

It’s a reality that people’s attention span is getting shorter and shorter, and long conferences conducted by one single speaker will become more seldom.
People are already switching anyway via their blackberries and their iPhones, iPads, via twitter back Channels!

The future of Presentation is about delivering shorter and more entertaining presentations, making them more personal and interactive.

If you’re planning to give a presentation soon, launching your business and wanting to be more visible, I wrote a series about it : The 6 Trends of Presentations in 2010.

How would it look like? Definitely
not like a PowerPoint, but not like Wall-E either!

Here, I guess the question is :
“When do they take off their headsets and stop acting like robots?!!!”

Waiting eagerly for your thoughts, stories and comments!

4 thoughts

  1. Marion -this is an interesting concept and I would be interested in hearing the feedback of the delegates. How did it work for them? So I would keep an open mind until I heard their points of view. I can see we’re not getting the whole story.
    However, I’m not a fan being isolated in my own auditory world. I think it can lead to alienation and lack of engagement – witness people in cities walking around with ipods and constantly on their mobile phones. I think we are failing to interact with our surroundings. I hate the idea of people paying more attention to their mobile phones and tweeting in conferences. If someone thinks a speaker is dull or missing the point – put up your hand and say so.
    Perhaps I am being too old school on this – happy to be shot down in flames… if people sitting at the same table want to talk to each other – shouldn’t they just say hi and introduce themselves?
    Should I run for the tin hat area?

  2. The idea is exactly that Dorothy : to be open to new media and keep the person at the center, very simply.
    It's not about being old school, it's about remembering we are humans.
    Thanks so much for joining me in this just reminded me the great gift I received for my birthday, with the virtual video birthday card. You did it, with a bunch of gentle and crazy others, and the effect was awesome!
    Marion Chapsal
    Geronimo Leadership Coaching
    Helping Women develop Leadership and Communication skills in a Cross-Cultural environment
    Twitter @MarionChapsal
    Tel 00 33 (0) 6 73 70 53 09 

  3. WOW! I guess you would have to be there to experience it. But I feel that I would be like on Twitter…first, immerse in the everything, looking around. Then, still with one, conversing, engaging, acting. The presenters need to know that, too. Like at an OPEN SPACE (OST) unconference where you move to wherever you contribute or learn and whoever is hosting the meeting works perfectly with whoever is there! People coming from a different conference would “pollenate” others ideas…it would be interesting to come together at the end in roundtables…;) Makes ya wonder…

  4. Re: TypePad: [Geronimo Leadership Coaching ] Monica Diaz submitted a comment on "In A Silent Way : The Future of Presentations?"
    Ah, great Monica!
    I knew I would find someone who would follow me in that unconventional, futurist and challenging experience! Shall we book for next Stockholm unconference, Monica?
    I also like what you say about first “immersing oneself”, like a sponge, and then engaging (“expressing” the juice from the sponge?!).
    I have heard of Open Space Unconference and I’m very curious and interested by them.
    For pollenate, it reminds me of Hildy Gottlieb, on Twitter, Author of 'The Pollyanna Principles: Reinventing Nonprofit Organizations to Create the Future of Our World'.
    Here’s a tweet I adore from her “Just had a cartoon image of empowered Pollyannas – like the PowerPuffGirls. They'd chant "Pollyanna Power!" and head off to save the world.” 🙂
    Great comment, sparkling with generosity and new ideas, just like you, Monica!

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