Less is more

credit: PublicDomainImages/Pixabay – license CC0

The Learning 2.0 conference eschews keynote speeches and instead presents what they call “Learning2 Talks.” These are brief (5 minute) speeches given by the workshop leaders with the purpose of inspiring participants and spurring them to take action in their own schools. The  Learning 2 Talks from the Learning 2.013 conference in Singapore were wide-ranging on subjects from photography to robots, from being relevant as a teacher to making and making changes. All of them were thought-provoking. Many of them made me want to take action in my life & in my school.

I’ve given such talks myself and I know that giving a brief talk requires more preparation than a long speech. You have to pare things down and be more to the point. Brevity takes time – as Blaise Pascal wrote, “If I had more time, I would have written a shorter letter.”

A short talk also makes your point more memorable. A longer speech tends to cause the attention to wander and for information to wash over the listener and not necessarily be remembered or internalized.

I’ve noticed this also with various online courses I’ve taken. Typically, these courses include some videos of the instructor lecturing or explaining some aspect of the subject. Sometimes these videos seem interminable – the instructor goes on and on as if it was an hour-long face-to-face class. Others are brief and to the point. In general, the brief videos are easier to attend to and remember the information. Certainly, they’re easier to review and find salient points!

The success of the brief Learning2 Talks format – or Ignite, or Pecha Kucha, or whatever – is demonstrated by my own personal experience. In my career I’ve attended many conferences and sat through numerous keynotes. While some have been memorable, none have spurred me to immediate action as the Learning2 Talks did.


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