I was giving a talk last week on Tuberculosis and Interferon Gamma Release Assays to about a dozen Public Health Nurses in Rotorua, a provincial town in New Zealand.
As often happens, I was short of time in preparing the talk, so I rustled up some slides from a couple of previous talks on the subjects, neither of which I had looked at for months. I would not have spent more than half an hour in preparing the talk, so it was all a bit patchy.
It turned out that it didn’t matter…
The nurses sat quietly for a couple of minutes then spent the rest of the hour voicing their opinion, citing their personal experiences, disagreeing with each other…every one of them. They were clearly a very knowledgable group, passionate about their work and they seemed to “feed off” each other in their enthusiam. By the end of the talk I could hardly get a word in edgeways!
I left the talk invigorated. It also reinforced a lesson for me, that in small presentations to intimate groups, the success of the talk is not so much about the speaker imparting detailed knowledge or showing fancy powerpoint slides in a didactic manner. It is much more about the group itself, and it’s willingness to involve themselves in the presentation, ask questions, give their opinion (right or wrong) and to immerse themselves in the topic.