Saturday, June 28, 2008

How NOT to take a seminar

I recently attended a seminar/lecture by a colleague on a new concept, that too in the afternoon. I am not a very good day dreamer, but after just a few minutes into the seminar, I was flying into the realms of day dreaming. Half the others were sleeping and almost none were interested. My brain completed its fantasy journey and returned me to ground reality and made me to take some points, those which I SHOULD NOT do if and when I take a seminar.

* Read what is written in the slides.
I feel this is one of the worst way to take a seminar. This gives the feeling to the attendees that you are not fully prepared. Dr. Walter Lewin, an MIT professor, known for his different and histrionic ways of taking a class said about taking a class (and it applies to everything) "It's not what you cover, but what you uncover". He also said "Never show a student a slide or an equation on a slide or on transparencies. Everything they have to digest, YOU should be able to write on the blackboard, (with an exception for pictures)." I agree to this completely.

* Show an equation/diagram and not explain it on the board. Already, I know nothing of it. Showing a technical diagram and not explaining is like adding salt to the wound.

* Dive into the core of the seminar from the word Go. Those sitting there are NOT machines. They are people. They have been working their ass off (atleast half of them) at something different and are already pre-occupied. If the presenter jumps directly into technicalities, he/she does not give an opportunity for the listeners to gain access to the seminar's environment. Once they are blocked, they never enter the seminar (mentally) at all.

* Look at only one or two persons and talk. Either the others get bored or get bugged. Either way, this is not a right etiquette during a seminar.

* Use very irritable and poor hand gestures and postures. Being a technical seminar in itself is tiresome. Nobody wants to look at a person to get themselves irritated more. Any hand or eye gestures ought to be relevant to the topic and should be graceful; At least should go with the personality of the presenter taking the class.

* Use too many textual slides. More the slides, more impatient people become. My policy is have as little slides as possible and talk more. If possible, make it a two way conversation with the audience. It makes for a more "alert" audience.

* Talk to the screen. The audience are looking at you to listen. NEVER avoid them. It will show the presenter in a poor light.

* Use poor language. Phrases like "anyone can understand this", "anyone can read it" are top phrases to irritate the audience. The audience sitting are not idiots to hear these words. They know if its going to be easy or not. Its not for the presenter to decide on the intelligence of the audience.

* Underestimate an audience's intelligence on the topic at hand. There are people who will know better than what you are trying to know. Respect that.
* Mismanage time. Any seminar/meeting getting extended is bound to go on the wrong side of people, be it technical stuff or personality development. There is only so much that a crowd can accept. Know the limit, and keep to it.
* Try to interpret a question before the audience completes it. Hear them out fully before answering. Its your seminar. Its your duty to hear their questions and explain to them. That is one of the intentions of having a seminar.

* Prepare fully for a presentation. Doing a dry run before a presentation always helps. You will get to know where you get stuck and correct it, so your presentation goes smoothly. A well prepared presentation shows itself on the audience's faces and their observance.
* Be confident on what you spell out. If a statement's validity is not clear, do not spell it out. In all probabilities, there will be a person who will catch that exact statement to raise his/her query.

Some of my Short "Spirit" tips for making a seminar/presentation a success.

- Clarity of thought on the subject at hand.
- Demonstrate love for the field/subject. It will shows itself by your presentation flow and energy you exude.
- There are no stupid questions. Chances are that if the person who is asking does not know, then you may also not know.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

CellOne International Roaming

If you have an international roaming enabled BSNL CellOne SIM, to activate the roaming when in a foreign country, the following procedure needs to be followed.

Select the "Cellone" menu in your mobile. Then, select the "Network" sub-menu. In that select "international" to activate your incoming and outgoing calls in international roaming mode.

Main link

An effective saloon

Last week, I went with my uncle to Baroda to meet some people relating to my uncle's work. While loitering around the office (in the Gujarat Industrial Area), I came across this sight of a saloon. With the cost of living growing faster than AIDS, I cudn't say much but to admire and appreciate the simplicity of the situation. I later found many more such shops scattered throughout the industrial area.