I go back over my recent posts a day or two after publishing them, partly to pick up typos to which one is blind when they are newly typed, but mainly to check that what I said is what I meant and is not capable of other meanings.
I have just come across one which has the capacity to offend anyone who has ever shown me a PowerPoint presentation, because what it appeared to say was that I hated the whole approach. I do not. I use PowerPoint myself – I may resent the obligation to produce the slides, but I value the structure they impose, the ability to illustrate dull words with other things where appropriate, and (from my perspective as a speaker) the freedom they give from paper notes.
I appreciate them also as an aid to the kind of dialogue I am lucky enough to have from time to time when someone senior in a company takes the trouble to explain what lies behind the press releases. I have had a few sessions like that recently, and very good some of them have been. A passage which I have now deleted from a recent post appeared to denigrate the lot.
What I was actually describing was a personal foible – I am no good as a passive receptor of orally-delivered information, and if I am not actively involved in what is going on, I fall asleep. I do not need much sleep (it is just gone 4.00am as I start to write this), but put me in a position where all I have to do is absorb information being delivered to a crowd, and I am gone. I have dropped off in meetings at which I had no active participation; I have slept through conference sessions; my wife makes sure she sits next to me at the opera or at plays so that she can prod me awake; I once had to go back to the second night of a school play because I missed the bit where one of my children was centre stage. It has nothing to do with the quality or importance of the performance and all to do with the one-way transmission.
There is a further element which applies specifically at LegalTech. Some opportunities arise only there and they take precedence over things I can do at other times. A bare demo can be fixed up any time; I can watch them from home. Many slide shows do not really need the monologue which accompanies them; I can read them on the plane. What I really value is discussion, with or without slides, with those who direct the strategy, and I was lucky enough to have one or two such meetings in New York with senior people not seen for a year.
This is privileged access and much appreciated – if I have a lot to do at LegalTech, they have much more – and I was appalled to see that my wording appeared to sweep that kind of session up with the monologue-with-slides variety. I am far from rejecting the latter as an efficient way of delivering information – I just don’t do it at LegalTech when every hour spent penned up in a group being talked at is a missed opportunity to meet up and talk with someone.