Friday, April 20, 2012

Conferring relations

Imagine that you're at a conference, listening to various speakers about a wide range of interesting topics. Those you've listened to so far have been quite eloquent, and you have just arrived to yet another talk about - something. You're not quite sure, but if the other talks are anything to go by, this is sure to be well worth the listen.

But as the speaker gets going, it becomes clear that he really has no clue as to how this thing called public speaking works. He's obviously tying to sell something, but as the train wreck progresses, it becomes clearer that you are not going to find out what by listening to his utter lack of wordplay.

So you leave, and hit one of the nearby places with free conference food. It's not great, but it's free and it's food. That's good enough for the moment.

While there, you discover that you're not alone in this sudden relocation to greener buffet tables. Another listener from the talk you just left has found his way there, and you naturally fall into conversation about how awful the speaker was. In short order, you're talking and laughing like you've known each other for a lot longer than the mere moments you've actually spent in conversation.

Now ask yourself - which of these two have made the biggest impact on you? The overpaid speaker, or the chance encounter with the random stranger?

This is the difference between marketing and public relations. And you really don't need to go to a stuffy conference with terrible free food to spot the difference.


  1. It's the same with many teachers, isn't it? And all these workplace meetings. When productivity in communication is measured in filling hours with talk, longwindedness is what tends to get produced.

    1. Good teachers and workplace coordinators know to include "unproductive" downtime into the learning/working process. It's when people are given time to get down to the business of not doing the official business that business gets done. ^^

    2. But the tendency today is more "productivity time" in daycare-center like workplaces without even private desks or spaces, while at the same time more people prefer to do things outside that hellish work environment as much as possible.

    3. That's the logic of top-down management talking. Someone decides that some measured unit of value is to increase, and policies are put in place to increase it - at the expense of those unmeasured but oh so important informal values.

      Many a good teacher and workplace coordinator have banged their collective heads against the mad buggering wall of bureaucracy. Small acts of sane rebellion in an insane system.

      The good news is that they win. Sometimes.