05 April 2021

Less is More

I signed up for a couple of online presentations recently where the material was crammed in—everything about a topic in a 60-minute presentation. It was too much. Presenters do it because they feel they need to give value to money. Some may not want to get called out for missing what a questioner regards as an important aspect not included. Some didn't do the work required to shorten it, we all know the line about if I had more time I'd make it shorter. And for some, sad to say, impressing with the depth of their knowledge is more important than providing a useful instructional experience.

There's no lack of advice on giving effective presentations. Google it! Most stress limiting the material to a few key points. We can only absorb so much before reaching overload. 

Now, with online presentations, why do organizers continue scheduling presentations for an hour in length? It's not as if you're travelling a distance to attend in person. 

Could we not have 15-minute presentations with 3 main points. Reserve additional material for a follow-on presentation that could be scheduled after attendees have had the chance to explore the initial material. 

If you're a Legacy Family Tree subscriber, you've seen this working with the weekly short tech tip videos (2-10 minutes each).

TED Talks are 18 minutes.

If organizers want to schedule longer meetings, why not a series of short presentations? You increase the chances there will be something relevant to more people. Maybe that's why BIFHSGO's Great Moments sessions are so popular. 


Linda Reid said...

There is also the opposite problem of people stretching 30 minutes of material into a 50 to 60 minute presentation slot because that is what was required. What could have been an excellent presentation in a tighter format, becomes a bore. I've heard many of those.

There is a particular problem in genetic genealogy where some speakers feel that they have to do ten minutes on the basics of three types of DNA tests before they get to material of interest to anyone with any knowledge in the field.

K said...

Wow! I'm of the opposite impression. The longer the lecture the better. I would enjoy two hours or more on most topics.

And another thing - I'm in the rural and in the olden days I would have to drive an hour just to get to a one hour talk, and drive an hour back home again. A one hour talk would literally take up half my day. Needless to say - there were lots of events that me and many others would not attend, sometimes resulting in low attendance during physical lectures.

Now I like the virtual presentations - don't have to gas up, and spend time travelling. I can leave the computer to get a drink, or go to the bathroom and miss only a small portion of the presentation but no more than I would if I were attending in person.
Longer talks please! Karen Prytula

Teresa said...

Giving presentations is a definite art. Just because you can research, doesn't mean you can present. I have turned some webinars off because the presentation style just didn't work for me, for many of the reasons you and Linda outline.