When everything gets answered, it’s fake

Image from Pixabay

Image from Pixabay

Being on leave for the past few days means I get time to do the things for myself I don’t usually create space for; this usually includes gaming, reading and, for this break specifically, film watching (the title of this blog is a Sean Penn quote). I have an eclectic taste in films, happy to watch Inbetweeners 2 (puerile and very funny) as much as Odishon (ponderously paced but beautifully crafted Japanese horror). Other films I’ve found time for include:

  • Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (worthy in parts)
  • Lawless (thoughtful and violent)
  • Limitless (great performances)
  • Sharknado 2 (silly)
  • Zombieland (sillier plus Bill Murray)
  • Under the Skin (unusual and quirky)
  • Weird Science (80s reminiscence)
  • Prometheus (underrated)

I re-watched Little Miss Sunshine earlier today. If you haven’t seen it, it’s the tale of a family’s road trip to a children’s beauty pageant in California. If you want to enjoy it without spoilers you probably want to stop reading after the trailer below.

Aside from the narrative and the quite exceptional performances (Toni Colette, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear et al) the characterisation is quite superb. One scene stood out; this was when Olive (Breslin) is about to go on stage at the beauty pageant.

As the girls in the pageant are being introduced and are posing on the stage, Olive’s Dad (Kinnear) realises the behaviour his family have displayed throughout the journey to get to the event isn’t abnormal or unusual – the truly weird behaviour is by the parents, judges and attendants at the pageant. He embraces this realisation and the family’s support for Olive as she performs Rick James’ Superfreak is wonderful.

“Yeah Andrew, but what’s this to do with Learning and Development?”

I’m speaking at three conferences in the next few months starting on 10-11 September at Learning Live in London. I’m looking forward to this event especially; it has a real spread of speakers and activity that I’m hoping will inspire me.

What I need to be sure of though is that the session I present, the content I put together and the interaction I design isn’t framed like the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant.  Think about it – how many conferences do you attend where the content presented is anodyne, free from error and sanitised to become a facsimile of real life? How many presenters have buffed their rhinestones and produced flawless slide decks that glitter and sparkle but fail to be unique? How many conferences become fashion shows where we judge speakers against each other looking to award a conference speaker title?

In beauty pageants we hear how the participants all  ‘want to work with children and animals’…what are the conference clichés we need to avoid?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

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4 responses to “When everything gets answered, it’s fake

  1. Well Well Andrew – what a very topical post and how timely. Yes L&D, and most likely most conferences, do come across stale sometimes because really most presenters dress alike, look alike, have the same tools (a PPT remote), move on stage the same way and even have the same cliches “I want to show you how we developed a successful learning intervention” – question from audience “How did you know it was successful?” Speaker “Go away Bozo – I just know – my gut feel told me so and that’s the end of it”.

    L&D Conferences and speakers lack or are scared to show their personality – show who they really are (and before people jump down my throat – yes I am talking about me). You see it is the done thing – invited to speak, prepare a presentation with 15 slides, show a few videos, show some graphs, quote a few L&D gurus and she will be right.

    I yearn for the conference where I am in conversation with the speaker – where he/she is talking to me and not a screen of slides; where the speakers personality, true feelings and perspectives are presented in a RAW manner, not masked behind a PPT and/or some speaking notes.

    And what’s with the Speaker Feedback form – why? If they were any good they will already know it and if they were not, they would also know that to.

    Good luck in your speaking engagements Andrew – go out there in a nice pink dress and see what the reaction will be – you never know, you may lend up leaving with a crown !

  2. Thanks Con – I’d like to create a Fail Conference. 4 speakers, each detailing a failure. The audience’s role is to share their experience, solutions, thinking and support.

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