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Knowledge Mobilization at Conferences & Workshops: Putting The “Social” In Presentations

I recently read two articles that pointed to a shift in how keynote and other speakers are using more social ways of presenting at conferences and workshops. I was using my @KMbeing Twitter account for mobilizing knowledge when I noticed (and reposted) a tweet from Erika Harrison on Twitter @eharrisondotorg:

Conference format acknowledges knowledge integration takes bit of time, reflection, & interaction – HT @DavidGurteen

(David Gurteen is Knowledge Management advisor, speaker and facilitator. Founder of the Gurteen Knowledge Community and Gurteen Knowledge Cafes).

The tweet links to an original blog post from Nancy Dixon, ( Common Knowledge Associates.

Nancy recapped a recent U.S. Army Knowledge Management Conference that she attended and spoke at. Nancy titled the blog A Knowledge Management Conference that Actually Used KM Principles.

The second piece was from Susannah at SQHQ, posting a blog Social Presentation For Social Media about a recent Digital Researcher Higher Education Conference that brought researchers and phd students together “to help create a strong research community”.  Susannah helped run a session on the digital researcher.

The most interesting connection that I recognized between the two events is the effective use of changing the usual (and sometimes admittedly boring) focus of the plenary or keynote speaker’s one-way “droning” style of communication to a more participatory and social style of presentation. The audience was asked to help define the direction they wished the presentation to go with reportedly effective results.

Both blogs and styles of presentation reflect the underlying principles of knowledge mobilization (KMb) – to open up possibilities of multiple contributions to established knowledge in order to further enhance knowledge for a greater benefit to society.  This is not to say that some plenary or keynote speakers’ presentations that are informative and provide knowledge to listeners are not interesting and engaging. But taking the opportunity to engage a wider audience and draw from a pool of knowledge and experience not only makes a presentation more interesting – it makes it more collaborative and social.

This shift in making conference and workshop presentations more “social” is a welcome approach to the fundamental principles of knowledge mobilization – greater emphasis on the multiple contributions and co-operation for the creation of knowledge. As the tweet pointed out, such a format of knowledge integration may take a little more time and effort, but the final results are worth it. Not only will conferences and workshops be more exciting to attend (with less drooling and heavy eye-lids) – but also more “social”.

2 responses to “Knowledge Mobilization at Conferences & Workshops: Putting The “Social” In Presentations

  1. David Phipps December 17, 2010 at 1:48 am

    Love the new site, better look and feel. More accessible.

    On the conference front, I have often played with alternatives to the “talking heads” format as it is so traditional and so ineffective at engaging dialogue. I hadn’t thought of the format as KMb, although if the audience and the speaker co-create the direction of the talk then it is.

    Hmmmm…you’ve got me thinking…and if we do co-create, apart from some high level introductory slides, it gets the talk away from power point which protects the speaker but makes him/her powerless and pointless.

    • KMbkteam December 17, 2010 at 6:40 am

      Thanks for your comment on the new look for the KMbeing site. I’m glad you consider it to be a better look, feel and more accessible.

      As for the recent blog post, when we move away from the traditional “talking heads” approach to (what I like to call) a “walking microphone” approach, and engage an audience in the direction of the presentation, not only can the speaker receive immediate feedback, but also insight into other forms of knowledge out there that may contribute further to his/her own.
      As I pointed out, the difficulty is keeping the presentation on track, which can also leave the speaker “powerless and pointless” – even with slides. One also needs to have a very comfortable and experienced speaker willing and able to answer questions or comment immediately. This is not a talent that all speakers share.

      Yet, being open to further knowledge, expertise and suggestions from an audience about the direction of a speaker’s talk can result in some interesting and more engaging presentations, and certainly the co-creation of knowledge.

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