Know your audience (or audience, know your speaker)

The last session I attended on Saturday (again, apologies for lateness, here) revolved around handling conflict in the newsroom. Every newsroom I’ve ever been in, every newsroom I’ve ever heard of, can become a breeding ground for conflict. People who spend so much time with each other, people who are so attached to every word they write, people who all have different backgrounds — well, sometimes they’re just going to have at it.

I was expecting to leave with a sheaf of practical solutions for cooling things down when they get hot. Instead, I left with almost an hour I’ll never get back. The presenter (an adviser at a small state school) was a nice enough guy, with some interesting experiences to talk about.

Then he opened things up to questions.

Then, I wanted to leave.

Part of the challenge with hosting any presentation with an audience in mind of students from all over the country and all types of institutions is just that. The community college is an entirely different ballgame. And to be clear, I admire the effort and the work and the products that community colleges produce. But the same rules just don’t apply.

The presentation was clearly, based off of the description, designed primarily for students attending four-year schools. When people started asking questions about how to build their staff or find a printer or start a website, I no longer found a value in the presentation.

These are valid questions, and there are places to go where they can be answered. But allowing certain members of the audience to ask too many of them is detrimental to everyone else in the room who wants to learn a little something more.

– By Michael Bodley

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