I had the privilege of participating in the New Librarians’ Symposium in Perth last September. It was a privilege for me as such forums provide access to an interested, motivated audience who are eager to access wisdom. Therefore as a presenter I have a real responsibility to provoke, entertain, inform and create an intellectual ‘conflict commons’ around particular subjects.
Steve McQuade’s comments about passivity. Right on the ball. Workshops, presentations, discussions, etc that are forcefully interactive are required. Having just run a rapid fire ‘intellectual speed dating’ type of workshop with my LINC personnel last Friday, I can attest to this method as a sure fire way of getting answers, innovations, leadership thinking and getting some serious ‘elephants in the room’ out there to deal with.
I present and engage with audiences quite regularly. I’m not perfect but my wisdom to share is this … imagine you were being paid to present, that your income relied upon it … treat the audience as clients who have paid good money to attend, participate, engage … presentation style is 50% of the equation, 50% is the content provided or generated by the engagement process … your aim is to leave the audience with a memory that will carry beyond a conference program.
I would also encourage evidence based presentations. What is meant here, is provide some kind of evidencial backup to statements made or reference some research undertaken somewhere in the world for your theme. I will remember to the day I die, something said at the NLS5 last year by a presenter who went before me, that I couldn’t resist using in my subsequent presentation. They said ‘I don’t know know anyone who doesn’t like libraries’! This was a personal opinion and effectively a personal value statement and not underpinned by evidence and statistical information as to the engagement of Libraries by the Australian public. Please back up what you say with research, evidence and honest experience.
Lastly, I would say it is perfectly ok to utilise creative conflict and some provocation to elicit new ideas, perspectives and leadership outcomes … comfort doesn’t bring innovation; dissonance, challenge and pulling down sacred bulls and sacred cows does.
Garry W Conroy-Cooper is the leader of the Launceston LINC [Learning &Information Network Centre] of LINC Tasmania | www.linc.tas.gov.au | He leads a team of almost 40 permanent staff, 110 fixed term contractors and almost 270 volunteers.
Garry has government and private sector experience across the library, archives, record, document management and recruitment areas and is a practising artist and believes strongly in the use of creativity as a business development approach. He has a reputation for being an ‘agent provocateur’ within our industry, whether challenging existing paradigms, driving cultural change, using diverse leadership styles and questioning out of date value systems.