Monday, April 17, 2006

Repetitions Galore

Recently I was at a seminar and one of the speakers there was this young guy speaking on the practice of witch hunting in one of the states in India. No, my post is not about witch hunting today :). Wait a bit! The young researcher was presenting his paper which was well written and researched and all of that but while he spoke, he uttered the word “basically” much too often, say one at the beginning, two in the middle and one more at the end of every sentence...

Well, that is what my post all about. Honestly, I was hunting for his “basically”s more than being able to pursue the content of his presentation. Now, I know that a lot of us repeat certain words and phrases when we speak but I express my grudges here only against those who indulge in public-speaking.

And the only reason that I do it is, that often I find myself having to put in hours and hours of concentration into listening to public speakers. The cells of my brain shriek in revolt but the good girl that I am, I smile and keep a brave face. But now having discovered the power of the blog, I do not hesitate – Repetitions galore! Repetitions (by the speaker), I find can be of two types: one, as I have mentioned above and the second type is repeating ideas, thoughts, viewpoints and factual information that the speaker wants to convey. Such speakers leave you with enough time to doze off and come back in time to catch the next line of thought.

Why must one be under a compulsive habit to repeat when on stage? In the former case I suspect, it is basically (smile) a lack of organization (in deciding the flow and content of the presentation) which manifests into such kinds of compulsive utterances. On the exterior it is interpreted as a lack of sensitivity towards the audience. Among the second type of speakers – the conscientious ones want to make sure that you have not missed the point while the vagrant among them simply love hearing their own voices. For example, one speaker at the same seminar spent at least half an hour explaining to a distinguished veteran group in the audience as to how important the work that they do is. An indisputable fact was harped upon which vexed many, no end.


Also what I find alarming is that most do not take the time limit seriously and where they appear to have any regards for it, be warned, they are only paying lip service. Our young friend mentioned at the beginning of the post, even usurped the role of the chairperson of the session and allotted himself extra minutes with due permission from the audience of course! Wow! Everyone in the audience was like me – good girls! Further, there are some who can be a combo of both types. In that jumble of words doing somersaults in your brain and your face holding back your emotions – you can easily qualify to be one of the most wretched creatures on earth.

Is there anything called the rights of the captive audience... just wondering, if there is, I would like to plead my case under it. Do I qualify as a “captive audience”?



PS: I always like to ensure my place nearest to the door.

Addendum
This long over due post (nonetheless important to get out from my system) I make, with due regards to all public speakers of this world.

10 comments:

Filial connections said...

Suggestion: pratice meditation. improves concentration you know ;)). I happened to be in a seminar too recently and i decided to practice meditation at the end of it.

kalpalata said...

well actually I dont know of any legal rights that captive audience may have. But dont they always have the right to walk off? Or keep that look of intent interest on your face - and let your mind wander to pleasanter things...
You see - various reasons of life may put you in a position of being a captive audience - but then the beauty is - that only you have control over your mind...you have the freedom to listen or to switch off

ambrosia said...

Thank you guys for your suggestions and opinions. You both are just too kind.

Meera said...

Ambrosia very good post.I really enjoyed it. I can use with the views of audience as I will be soon presentating something. I will make sure that I use "basically" only once.

a very cool cat said...

Lol - considering the fact that I was present at the same seminar, I know just what you mean. I think all public speakers should be dragged off to public speaking courses - just so hapless editors like myself don't have to add to the already plentiful grey in their hair while trying to fashion their senseless ramblings into a coherent report! [*sobs*]

As Kalpalata said, you can always switch off - I do that all the time! But I have to come to the defence of the 'basically' guy, whose paper I rather enjoyed - it wasn't entirely his fault that his presentation stretched on way past 5 PM - the previous speaker, who was also good, had just refused to shut up, despite the poor Chairperson poking at her (not so) surreptitously every five minutes, remember?

ambrosia said...

Sorry guys for the delay... each time I wanted to write on my blog something would happen either to the machine or to the connection or to my mood...

Meera - It is a very good idea to look at the situation from the audience's point of view. Any tips that you may require - as you can see we are all there to chip in... seriously...

Proteete - (sigh) If only what I was there for would allow me the luxury of switching off (sigh). It escaped me to mention that there are some dangerous ones also - who, without warnings in bursts of inspiration run on track like super fast trains... many in this condition make sence also.

Anyway looking at the brighter side of the situation, I agree that the paper was good but the "basically" guy did not pay attention to organising the presentation well enough. He got too ambitious I think - wanted to fit in each and every point noted in his several years of field research and analysis into 20 minutes. I guess this is another thing that public speakers must keep in mind - what to say and what to omit given a particular time frame. No?

All said and done I enjoyed listening to the previous speaker - just loved her Hariyanvi accent. Now this makes me think there is this element of charisma that contributes into making the audience feel engaged with the speaker - whether it is learnt or innate - that is a matter of debate.

I can't end this post without putting it down on record that I fully sympathise and empathise with you. But looking at the positive side, giving senseless ramblings a semblance of coherence is an art you know... cheers!

a very cool cat said...

It's an art I wish I didn't possess! And one I can do very well without - thanks for the sympathy, though! And good point about personal charisma - I agree it plays a very important role. And yes, that Haryanvi accent was just too much! :-)

Nomad said...

Nice post! I find the use of 'basically' is common among speakers in India, and this reminds me of some people who basically survive thru their speeches on 'basically'.

Our school system does not encourage presentation skills, unlike American schools where even kids in kindergarten have to do 'show and tell', where they bring something to class and talk about it. I guess in the US, in some cases, communication and presentation skills take priority over content, and you end up hearing a lot of well presented fluff.

In the corporate world, where a powerpoint slide deck is almost mandatory for any presentation, the preparation of the slide deck goes a long way in organizing one's thoughts and structuring the content to fit the timeframe. Depending on the audience, each slide could be sparse or 'busy', and may take from 3 to 5 minutes to cover. Many public speakers use a similar deck of cards for themselves.

The other train of thought that struck me by reading this post is the tolerance or 'chaltha hai' attitude we have in India. I guess it has to do with the large number of people vying for few resources, and having to 'adjust' with others to maintain sanity and survive. I was trying to compare the situation you described with a similar one in the US, and I think everyone would be a lot less tolerant.

Azahar Machwe said...

Boring conferences and seminars are the best places to go and think.
When I am bored out of my wits I get some of my best ideas!
My brain is just buzzing like a high voltage power line!

Witch burning! What a fascinating topic. I would have read the paper instead of listening to the presentation. It is sometimes more helpful esp. if you intend to ask questions and are not able to understand a word being said!

ambrosia said...

Welcome to my blog Nomad. I am terribly late in writing back, but some things just can't be helped! You are right, more than the size of the country, it is the attitude of the people that creates lots of funny situations! Sometimes I find everything a big joke! This attitude helps - in not taking anything seriously! Thank you for your comments - the case of the corporate world you cite just brings into focus that presentations if organised (I don't even want to say "well" organised coz here, most of the times the "chalta hai" attitude makes people not at all concerned about it) can be so much more meaningful. Hope you will keep coming, cheers.

Azahar Machwe, what is witch burning?