Academia, Teaching

How was the talk today? Oh, where did the audience go?

Berkeley, Wednesday, October 3, 2018 3:30 PM

Know your audience, but how, when invited?

I run a colloquium of series of Lectures in Landscape Architecture and Environmental Planning.

I receive speakers every week.

Some of them has spoken to a filled classroom, which capacity is 25 students.

Some others, like today, Rafa, started with 20 attends, and the audience had to leave early remaining half of the audience by the end of his presentation.

What are the key components for engaging the audience?

There are four to ten researcher in the world working in the topic that Rafa works: sediment management and dam developing at the watershed scale. I also work in the same topic, that is why I brought Rafa to speak today.

He did a fantastic job, his talk was crystal clear to me. As a moderator I introduced him to the audience, and by the end of the lecture, I started the debate. I came up with two questions, for analysis beyond his work, about the how stakeholders are willing to listening his results. What have been the actual impacts in the Mekong Basin?

Rafa developed an unique model for approaching these problems at the watershed scale.

I understand that is not easy to digest all this material when first exposed, but he break up in clearly and nice pieces.

We just evidence a prominent world class researcher approaching a problem that is ready for public policies specialist to take over.

Is the person or is the topic who attracts the audience?

In many ways seems that is the person. Rafa has a bright future, he just finished his PhD two years ago.

I am grateful to Rafa for making his trip to Berkeley.

There are several learnings:

  1. Stay active writing. Rafa has published already more than 10 peer-review articles, including one in Nature Sustainability.

I have another, but I will share when the time comes. I am no one to teach Rafa.

I assume my failures, as I posted late the weekly assignment, and send the talk announcement about 42 hours in advance.

I have found effective, though, to send the announcement on the Monday, about 52 hours in advance from the talk, as it is a weekly announcement, and I do not want to send more than one email per week. Many are already receiving an email from me every week.

Next week, I will take the challenge to lead the group to process, analyze, reflect, critic, argue, from the seven talks and reading already given.

Important value in academia and public speaking is that you get immediate feedback just by reading eyes and faces.

No one needs to be liked, academia and public speaking is about speaking truths. However, I believe the key aspect is active minds, and make other think. All of us can think, if I can activate and stimulate the audience to throw those thoughts to me, then it is a success.

I should ask for feedback not only for the speakers but also for my role as moderator and organizer. I should be able to construct those links, when do not happen naturally.

 

 

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