Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Lose the Standard Deviations

Too many conference presenters do it.

They put the minute details of their research in the slides and proceed to walk their listeners through the initial hypothesis, the sample data population, the methods, the assumptions, the regression analysis performed, the margin of errors, the accuracy ratios and, finally, the conclusion.

Whenever I see this I wonder if these same presenters are observing and 'feeling' the state of the audience. Because I am and most of the time, when a presenter shares how he broke the paths he broke as opposed to what new paths he's found, people get sleepy, bored and easily distracted.

Not many want to know about the messiness of reaching a particular conclusion. Almost nobody wants to sit through a case-study on research methods. People who pay to attend a conference want to know:
  • something new to the area in question
  • something they'll find useful and which they can bring back to their institutions
  • something to provoke them to explore further
  • something to make them laugh (or at least smile)
  • something which others found provoking, new, useful or funny
So deviate from the norm: Leave the standard deviation in the handouts and give your audience a non-standard show filled the fresh, the intelligent and the homourous.

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