I frequently host workshops, give “normal” presentations or an “OpenSpeach”. The term is my own invention: “speach“ is an old spelling of “speech”. I call this kind of presentation “open“ because I ask questions at the beginning. After all, I want to show my audience (or rather: my co-workers) the way to the solution through the answers.
? Mind you, the OpenSpeach is not really news. In fact, I assume that the ancient Greek Philosophers did it in the same way.
I particularly like using OpenSpeach for topics such as “entrepreneurship and future”. Then I work with my audience about what is an enterprise, how it lives, thinks and works, what characterizes it, how it depends on its environment, how it can go through the years successfully, how sustainability and resilience can be achieved, and much more of the same.
In order to make sure that all participants can prepare and know what to expect, I send them a preparatory text.
Here is an example for such an invitation to an OpenSpeach about Enterprises & Future:
Dear participants. Welcome to my presentation. I truly look forward to our meeting!
It is my goal to work out with you what characterizes an enterprise and to look for and find ways and criteria that show how we together can make your enterprise successful and resistant aganst crises. All stakeholders should benefit from what we work out, especially the people whose livelihoods depend on the workings and the success of the enterprise. Let me remind you of such terms as “sustainability”, “resilience” and “disruptive event”. Even though these are all buzzwords, we still cannot ignore them, because they point towards important aspects of our future.
If this is possible at all, I want to avoid a “classroom situation”. A “chaotic seating order” is far better, because it makes it possible to see each other. Besides, I would like to remind you of the following – or perhaps ask you for the following (this is simply because I want us to use our time together to optimality for everybody):
- We are a team and not a group.
- We meet at eye-level.
- Everybody in the team gives and receives the same amount of respect and appreciation.
- Not the person whose opinion differs from ours but the challenge or the problem we wish to solve is our enemy (problem being defined as a state of affairs that cannot continue).
Consequently, we imagine another’s theses are our own and then we mentally try to find out which are the requirements or conditions under which we could accept them.
We start on time. I plan with 90 minutes. When we are finished, we are finished. If we finish early, then we finish early. If we need more time, then we can take longer. But we must not stretch the overtime to more than half an hour.
It is explicitly allowed to use laptops/tablets/mobile phones. In fact, you are encouraged to use them. These gadgets support our work during the presentation and, for instance, make it possible for us to look up technical terms, remember what we had forgotten and see if facts and statements are correct. … ? The time while I speak will be so exciting that nobody will want to read their emails. And if you are bored, then what is wrong with doing something useful?
Also: We are free agents, there is no compulsion whatsoever. If you want to take a nap, you are excused. After all, who knows that you cannot learn more sub-consciously while dreaming than while listening carefully? During the workshop, we move as we wish to – there is no obligation to sit down like at school. For instance, if someone has a biological need, then it is better if she/he leaves the room for a short time than if she/he is uncomfortable and spending the entire shared time sub-optimally.
Whatever happens happens and is a good thing. There are no planned pauses. Everybody can take a break when they feel that is what they want. And as soon as the majority believes it is time for a break, we will all take a break.
WE ARE FREE AGENTS! But: WE TAKE PAINS TO NOT GABBLE BUT INSTEAD TO LISTEN CAREFULLY, THINK PRECISELY AND SPEAK CLEARLY.
In other words: We mind our language. Everyone formulates concisely and, as a reward, is allowed to say all he/she wishes to say. Everyone listens carefully: the first sentence is just as important as the last sentence. Everyone relates to what the others said. Everyone strives towards being altero-centered, thinking in a focussed way. (“altero-centered” means being prepared to identify with another’s ideas and to continue from there). We are willing to question our certainties (truths). Because we do not want to be correct and see to it that our prejudices win. Instead, we want to share our knowledge and learn new things and change the world. We are allowed to be creative and are also courageous enough to actually say things that “basically” we would never have dared to say. We let ourselves be inspired and react positively to impulses. Instead of often saying “yes, but”, we prefer asking: “How could that be achieved?”.
EVERYBODY IS EVERBODY’S BUTLER!
In other words: we help each other. For instance when we collect or process catchwords we then hang on the walls (perhaps with Stattys). We want to cluster and structure them together. Or when we re-arrange flipcharts. We will need volunteer “drivers” who are willing to take a certain role in the “documentation process”. (I took the term “driver” from mob-programming). Eventually, we will have a photo protocol of our results.
With these preparatory remarks, I hope to turn my presentations into something people enjoy, rather than “school”. After all, I do not wish to distribute my knowledge and convince others of my own prejudices. Instead, I want to inspire and give impulses. I want to make my audience thoughtful and once in a while I also want to annoy them a little bit ;-). This is all about questioning what is allegedly self-evident and about “breaking patterns”. It is also about instigating people to think beyond the rim of their own cups. Even if you have to break the cup in order to do so.
And since I am egoistical, I also want to benefit from my own work and learn as much as possible from my audience!
(Translated by EG)