Re: Useful slide tex (was - Re: English spoken here)

Keith Moore <> Mon, 03 December 2012 03:02 UTC

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Date: Sun, 02 Dec 2012 22:02:48 -0500
From: Keith Moore <>
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To: joel jaeggli <>
Subject: Re: Useful slide tex (was - Re: English spoken here)
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On 12/02/2012 03:57 PM, joel jaeggli wrote:
> On 12/2/12 11:15 AM, Keith Moore wrote:
>> On 12/02/2012 01:46 PM, joel jaeggli wrote:
>>> We have non-native english speakers and remote participants both 
>>> working at a disadvantage to follow the discussion in the room. We 
>>> should make it harder for them by removing the pretext that the 
>>> discussion is structured around material that they can review and 
>>> follow along on? I don't think that's even remotely helpful.
>> In general, the purpose of those meetings is *discussion*, not 
>> presentation.   I'm all for exploring better ways to facilitate 
>> *discussion* among the diversity of IETF meeting attendees.  But our 
>> experience with use of previously-prepared PowerPoint presentations 
>> to facilitate *discussion* shows that use of that tool, in that way 
>> and for that purpose, is a miserable failure.
> Since you and I attend a significant number of the same working groups 
> we should have some shared experience, but I'm going to flat out 
> disagree. It's possbile that we had completely different experiences 
> in the same meetings, but I do firmly believe that slides are 
> facilitatiing both the speakers coverage of the problems they're 
> trying to address, and the participants dicussion of the problems 
> enumerated.
I saw very little productive discussion happening in Atlanta in the vast 
majority of working group meetings which I attended.  True, there were 
times when people queued up at the microphones.  (though that's actually 
a pretty inefficient way to have a discussion.) The vast majority of the 
time in nearly every session I attended was occupied by speakers 
standing at the front of room in front of a screen of mostly text, and a 
room full of people who were mostly not paying attention.

(and when people did try to discuss things, the chairs kept trying to 
cut the lines short because they had more PRESENTATIONS to get 

>> Of course I'd encourage speakers to make available for download 
>> summaries of the material to be discussed in advance of the meeting, 
>> for the benefit of non-native English speakers and others. PowerPoint 
>> (or better, PDF of material prepared in PowerPoint) seems like a 
>> reasonable format for that.
> the reflexive reference to a particular tool isn't a helpful point of 
> this discussion imho...

I think people understand that I'm not talking specifically about a 
particular tool for creating presentations.   It doesn't matter which 
tool you use, the problem is the notion that meeting time should consist 
primarily (or even significantly) of presenters standing in front of a 
screen on which mostly-text is being displayed, and the content of what 
is being said closely corresponds to what is on the screen.   A related 
problem is that people are paying attention to the words on the screen 
which is distracting them from what is actually being said.    And 
because the bitrate of the information being presented is low, people 
tend to not pay much attention anyway, and they tend do things that 
further distract from the meeting.

"PowerPoint" is just a convenient one-word shorthand for this 
phenomenon.   The problem isn't the specific tool that's being used, but 
the phenomenon almost inherently comes with use of PowerPoint or any of 
several similar tools.   And everybody has seen it happen and associates 
it with the word PowerPoint.

What matters is that a lot of meeting time is being wasted by filling it 
up with presentations, and by trying to have discussions using media and 
techniques and habits that are better suited for presentations.  (though 
the idea that PowerPoint and similar tools even help to facilitate good 
presentations is itself pretty dubious.)

>> I also think it would be quite helpful to arrange for the topics 
>> discussed and points raised in the discussion to be displayed in the 
>> room in real time, as they are typed.   This would provide non-native 
>> speakers with visuals similar to what they see now with PowerPoint, 
>> but without the undesirable side-effect of coercing discussion time 
>> into presentations.   This would also reinforce the need for a 
>> minute-taker and help to keep the minute-takers honest.
> This is a meeting workflow change, I can think of several ways to 
> approach it. as with note taking, jabber scribing and managing remote 
> participants it requires someone to do the work (though it may overlap 
> with one of the other activities).

Of course.  And I'm not set on a particular approach; I just want to 
facilitate more effective discussion (and in a way that tries to 
accommodate those who have trouble understanding the speakers).

But I do suspect that somehow the job of typing something that appears 
immediately on the screen, might be more appealing than the job of 
taking minutes or being a Jabber scribe.   If one person typing could do 
an adequate job of all of the above, that would be nice, as we'd need 
fewer volunteers.
>> (I doubt that PowerPoint is the best tool for this purpose, since it 
>> would be highly desirable to convey the same information, at the same 
>> time, to remote participants.)
> it would be helpful abstract the tool dicussion away from particular 
> applications, at the heart of the problem, is not which text/media 
> formatting application is used.
I don't think you can completely divorce the discussion from mention of 
these tools and still have a useful discussion.