Sweettt.com – Episode 6 – The Best Way to Share Knowledge

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Wordle on The Best Way to Share Knowledge
Hi folks!  Here we are again with the next installment from our August 15th discussion.  Here we continue our discussion, no longer focusing on the best way to create a podcast from a conversation (see prior episode) but instead, exploring the notion that the really best way to share knowledge is through the art of dialog.

Engaging in meaningful discourse enables us to truly know what we think we know, by getting a chance to hear what we have to say.  The ability to recognize certain facts and patterns is only an introductory level of understanding.  However, when we can freely recall information & ideas, and actually generate language based on those concepts, this is an indication that a deeper, more thorough level of understanding is achieved.  Take that a step further and show that you can think on your feet, reacting spontaneously the highly-variable momentary situational demands of a conversations, and you have knowledge-sharing nirvana.

So, here is a challenge to all the wonderful speakers out there in the world who thrive on your specialness at the podium.  Are you really doing your best to ensure that people are learning during the time they are investing on you?  If there was a better way to ensure knowledge development within the audience, would you do it?  What is the purpose of the audience?

00:00 BEGIN
00:30 Introduction
01:15 Previously heard, on Sweettt…
02:30 Kicking off discussions without the kickoff.  Keep it natural, baby!  When you make a bit SHOW out of it all, then the prefiltering kicks in.  It’s so much nicer when you forget that you are recording and you get to be yourself, and have a real conversation.
03:40 Your feelings inside of you are a tremendous source of information.  If you don’t feel right doing it, this is telling you something.  If the introduction of a podcast feels pressured and awkward and artificial, then maybe it could be better.  The podcast can sound forced.  It’s much better to do an introduction outside of the podcast.
05:30 Record the introduction at the outroduction is what we’re going to do.
06:30 We could actually record an endless loop.
07:00 Here it comes… The best way to share knowledge… This is what you don’t want to do when you are setting up presentations…  We’re ging way back in time to KM 2003.
08:00 Nancy Dixon – Common Knowledge – The traditional way of doing presentations is not a very good way of sharing knowledge.  Conversations, instead, are the best way to share knowledge.
09:00 In keeping with the idea that conversations are the best way to share knowledge, we actually had an entire conference full of breakout sessions where only 50% of the time was spend delivering the presentations.  The rest of the time should be spent in conversations.
10:30 The idea really caught on.  Attendees were expecting an opportunity to talk and have real discussions during the breakout sessions.  The conclusions was that we should definately keep the presentation to discussion ratio at 50:50.
12:00 Luis remembers that conference & notices how little we see this in other conferences since then.
13:00 Even Enterprise 2.0 had speakers running overtime.  They don’t get it!!!  E2.0, if any conference is supposed to get it, should be a dialog.
13:30 This is a major downfall of conferences.  Speakers are not willing to explore the option to have discussion in their time slot.  People don’t like to give up control and move outside of their confort zone.  As soon as you allow the audience to challenge the speaker, they are not comfortable.
15:15 It’s patronizing & insulting for the speaker to continually talk down to the audience.
15:45 Some sessions @ E2.0 were like a trap, where there was no way to interract with others.  The network was cut off.  And this was not acceptable.  We just left and went to the lobby.
16:45 There is a growing trend & expectation in conferences to allow for this discussion & interraction.  The back channel chat is at least the most minimal requirement.
17:45 The audience might have something more intelligent and smarter to say about your presentation.  And it is good to listen to that.
18:00 Speakers are afraid to allow the audience to talk in the room for fear that it will make them look less of an authority.  Wake up speakers!  Deal with the reality that you do not know everything!  No one expects you to know it all.
18:00 It is a myth that one must be an definitive authority in order to be valuable.  You don’t need to have students sitting at your feet in order to prove that what you know is worth teaching.
19:45 Professional conferences are sometimes the only chance many people have to present the facade of the authority.
20:30 People don’t trust the process of dialog and conversations.  They don’t trust themselves to think on their feet.  Instead of being a facilitator, they play the authority game.
21:30 Carl Frappaolo – Knowledge Management – held a session in the morning that was really refreshing, a real wake up for the attendees.  It was engaging.  He followed the 50:50 Rule.  He invited the audience to engage with him in a discussion.  He played the role of facilitator.
22:30 A full room at 8:00 in the morning, people with expectations to hear about KM 2.0 and not really expecting much… all of a sudden were treated with one slide and 15 minutes of discussion.
23:30 Out take
24:42 END


  1. First, great chapter!

    People are going to be wrong from the beginning if they think they know everything. As you properly talked about, the presenter should learn from his/her audience as well, that’s the corner stone of knowledge: feedback (communication is a better word).

    To present anything, you have to have a story to tell. Yes, even in the IT industry you have to “shape” whatever your topic is into a story. By doing so, you’re going to engage your audience and in most of the cases you won’t be boring people and be “booed” at the end.

    I’m guessing the presenter you were talking about was the one that made an interview to the “inventor” (CEO?) of Facebook, in an auditorium full of people. She alienated the audience and at the end, the people even started mocking herself, what a nightmare!

    Great episode Matt & Luis!

  2. Hi Julio. I’m really glad that you like this episode.

    Wow, they were mocking her? I’d never heard or read about that one. Got a reference? Sounds fascinating. Yeah, that’s always a winner. Call your audience names… throw rotten vegetables at them…

    I like the idea of a story… But I think that the best stories come from turn-taking, where, in the middle of dialog, the story emerges and becomes part of the dialog. If that doesn’t happen, then most people are stuck in their chair wishing they could engage the speaker in a more meaningful way. Even when we say Bill Cosby live in Boston… (and he’s one of the most captivating and entertaining story tellers on the planet), people in the audience were wanting to talk to him.

  3. Hey Matt. Seems to be something wrong with the iTunes subscription feed – or is it just me? I haven’t been able to get episode 6, and the feed is coming up with an error (!) in iTunes.

  4. OK that was weird, deleted the subscription and manually added the URL and we are back up and running.

  5. Hi Andy. :-) Now THAT’s the kind of problem resolution I love!

    erm…. actually… it gets better when iTunes doesn’t have a problem to begin with. I wonder what could have caused that. I hope it’s not a more general problem that other people will have. I’m using Podcaster in WordPress… and it’s not as if there’s a logical set of instructions. Here’s hoping I didn’t mess anything up.

    Also, check out the new logo. :-) It’s got that Elsua component, just like you recommended.

  6. Hi Julio César! Thanks a bunch for the great comments and for adding further up into the conversation. It is funny, *that* was another episode, that you mentioned, were the audience was just too smart of the situation at hand, but we weren’t referring to that case specifically. We were thinking about certain vendor who was given an x amount of time and the presenter just took double the amount of time to deliver the speech and leave no time for questions. But worst part was that the rest of the sessions had to be compressed, because of that first initial keynote session. No names mentioned, but that session was one of the most disappointing I have ever been to, and not to worry, it already told me what to do next time around: hang out at the lobby, having *real* conversations with *real* people! 😉
    Thanks again!

    @Andy, hummm, we experienced a couple of hiccupes with the iTunes feed, but we thought we got them sorted out and it looks like yours magically disappeared, Go figure! Either way, glad it is working fine now and *thanks much!* for all the kind support on the podcast, including the “elsua” elements! We hope it is going on the right direction…

  7. […] already shared the details and the link to this particular episode and I can certainly encourage you to have a look into the initial description he put together, […]

  8. Great episode. Nice length. I enjoyed it on my train ride this morning.

    I picked up a great presentation technique from Jessica Lipnack at the Enterprise 2.0 conference. She was the moderator of the panel on What Blogging Brings to Business. Jessica starts her presentations by asking the audience to introduce themselves. Immediately, you have engaged the audience.

    I have being using this for my presentations and love doing it. I ask the audience to say their name, their company and why they are here. (being there for the doughnuts or lunch is an acceptable answer.)

    Luis – you were in the audience for Blogging panel at E 2.0. How did you, as audience member, like that audience introduction technique?

  9. Doug, I was there too. And I appreciated the conversation once it got going. The introduction was interesting… “Do you blog…. who are you… what is your blog…” and then let people take the microphone. I appreciated that as an attempt to get the “audience” engaged. Personally, I felt like a member of the out-crowd with those questions, though.

    Q – Do you blog?
    A – Hmmm…. I podcast… That’s not a blog… I guess that doesn’t count. (and so I didn’t raise my hand)
    A – Well… kinda… I want to blog more… I’ve tried various ways of blogging… I keep reinventing my blog… I’m struggling with my online identity (should I talk about my personal life or my professional life… should I include my political or religious views?… I really don’t want to limit my marketability in the future with employers or with future clients or customers…)

    Personally, I have a difficult time with speaking panels. I think they are really designed and facilitated, for the most part, for scenarios where the conference committee wants to simulate a discussion, but only trusts a few people to actually engage in it.

    I think I remember seeing Jessica also do her open question bit at the beginning of the E 2.0 Town Hall Wrap Up 2007 (recorded video.) It was nice to see her drag the camera focus away from the podium and out onto the floor and engage get the audience engaged in a discussion. I did see that also with the What Blogging Brings to Business panel. Yet I think that the conversation could be made much more open. The challenge is being polite enough to all the panelists to allow them enough air time. If you follow the 50:50 Rule, and there are 5 speakers, and the session is an hour, this means that each panelist would get 6 minutes. That’s hardly enough to justify them being a speaker in the first place. Why not, instead, have 5 people ready to engage and facilitate the discussion, and NOT require of them a schpeel? The alternative is to have 5 people ready to ask provocative questions and to offer challenging opinions.

    Why? Parents of gifted children engage in metacognitive behavioral interactions with their children. Instead of giving answers and providing solutions, they ask the child questions that lead them to answer their own questions. They ask questions that invite the child to think about they way they solve problems. To encourage metacognition, the facilitator becomes a source of questions. They ask the question, and then get out of the way.

    Inexperienced group therapists make a common mistake. The lead the group discussion as a series of 1:1 interactions, keeping themselves in the hub and everyone else taking a turn. That’s fine when there is an agenda and work to be done and someone needs to set the cadence and move the group through the agenda. However, except for a few facts and challenging points, the subject matter of most lectures is already known by the audience members. If they are invited to make those points in the room instead of the speaker (and not like being quizzed) and allowed to interact with other people in the room, then there is a much better opportunity to learn.

  10. WOW! Great comments everyone! Doug, I wil go ahead and share my thoughts over here trying to answer your comment above and also on my own blog post, over at http://elsua.net. I will probably paste the answer there as well, in case, other folks may be following it as well.

    To start off, stay tuned for an upcoming episode of the podcast, because both Matt & myself have been talking extensively about your question and brought it into the show and share our experiences on how we felt about it. As a teaser I will share my two cents of some of the stuff I mentioned …

    I think Jessica’s approach towards hosting that panel session like she did was *fantastic!* Unique on its own! And, like you said, the best option to engage the audience right away! Just fascinating, as one of the folks from the audience who wasn’t expecting such an intro of the panel. Immediate consequence, we were all there! Engaging in the conversations and waiting for an opportunity to participate! Just brilliant!

    I must say though, not sure how other audiences would have reacted. Most bloggers are pretty open and extrovert types, so I can imagine they would be jumping in without a single issue. However, other folks may not have been that open, specially in front of total strangers. In a way, we were also strangers and everything, but I noticed how a bunch of people from the audience, and the panelists, were already “connected” to some of the bloggers, so that helps. I wonder what the scenario would have been like in a room with strangers and asking them chime in and speak up. Perhaps for the next one.

    Also, another thing I really enjoyed was the fact it was a relatively small group, so you had a chance to get to meet those folks and find out more from them. I am not so sure the format would have worked out with a larger audience, more than anything, because of lack of time. I bet that if this approach would have been taking place with larger audiences it would have had a completely different take.

    But again, for a smaller group, like the one we had, or even smaller, it is a brilliant approach towards conducting a superb panel session and I would certainly be looking forward to more of those in their due time… Perhaps even one with you doing the show! :-)

    Again, stay tuned for that upcoming episode, because you will find it, I am sure, rather entertaining…

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