Presentation vs. Discussion sessions (was: PowerPoint considered harmful)

Keith Moore <> Sun, 02 December 2012 18:37 UTC

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Date: Sun, 02 Dec 2012 13:37:26 -0500
From: Keith Moore <>
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Subject: Presentation vs. Discussion sessions (was: PowerPoint considered harmful)
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On 12/02/2012 01:06 PM, Melinda Shore wrote:
> There's a whole nexus of connected issues here, I think, and what
> a given person complains about depends on that person's pet peeves.
> It seems to me that if we were better about moving work forward
> between meetings (<- peeve!) meeting time wouldn't be chewed up
> with presenting the current state of the work.
While I fully agree that most WGs could be better at moving work forward 
between meetings, I don't think it would solve the problem of face to 
face meeting time being filled up with presentations.

I suspect that most WG participants have difficulty keeping up with the 
traffic on their WGs' mailing lists for various reasons (too much 
"distraction" from normal work, the sad state of mail user agents, 
etc.). By forcing people to travel away from work, face-to-face meetings 
serve as useful interruptions from normal distractions and opportunities 
to catch up on IETF work.  If working groups moved forward even faster 
than they do now, that might actually be seen to increase the need for 
presentations at face-to-face meetings.

Occasionally I've wondered if IETF meetings should have "presentation" 
sessions separate from (and in advance of) "working" sessions.    The 
difference between the two types of session would be clearly indicated 
in the schedule.   The presentation sessions would be geared toward 
presenting an overview of current state of the proposals, including a 
summary of recent changes.   Perhaps participants would be allowed to 
ask questions for clarification, but discussion should be discouraged 
and any kind of polling of the room or other decision making would be 
forbidden.  The presentation meetings would therefore be optional for 
those who had kept up on the mailing list.   And presentations would be 
forbidden in discussion sessions.

I can imagine these being useful in several ways, e.g. in facilitating 
better cross-group and cross-area review.   People who were active 
participants in working groups could attend presentation sessions of 
other groups, without sacrificing their attendance in the discussion 
sessions of the groups in which they were active.

Perhaps roughly the first 2(?) days of an IETF meeting could be largely 
devoted to presentation sessions, and the remainder of the time to 
discussion sessions.    Having a strict allocation of time for each kind 
of session isn't so important as having the presentation sessions for a 
particular group well in advance of the discussion session for that group.

This is something that could be tried on a small scale, by a few working 
groups (say one in each area) before being widely adopted. It might 
help, however, to have explicit support for the idea in the tools that 
maintain and display the meeting schedules.