Technology: Boon or Bust or Both

by Rutty

The sales-oriented, over-use of ‘maxi-media’ (anything in excess of need) was first challenged by me in two columns (1970-71; 71-73) and my first book (1973). A worthwhile message will be listened to and needn’t be prettied-up. Just make it intelligible when heard. “You can put lipstick on a pig, but. . .” Complex messages can be helped only by visuals that help clarify concepts, not illustrate irrelevancies. Pretty-for-the-sake-of-pretty detracts from message.

Old learning? Well, the human brain hasn’t changed much in 10,000 years, according to scientists; so the researched educational principles and findings are still valid. New research on the brain in recent years has identified specific real estate where various brain functions occur. We newly know that the brain has a life-long plasticity and can reassign real estate according to new-learning demands or to compensate for injury.

New proofs of old practices, too: Sleeping on new-learning material can aid retention. New idea? Ask any HS or college student who crams late-night for morning tests. Now we know why it works.

Vicarious practice has long been known to work. Newly-discovered reasons: ‘mirror neurons.’ While watching others, our empathic neural system ‘operates’ inoperatively in muscles, responding to observed action. New understandings of ‘old’ learning. Scientists still haven’t discovered how the functions do in fact function: How and why does consciousness occur?

Meanwhile, you’ll need old and proved learning and research. So return to learning needs:  In specific instances, technology can help in specific meeting/training situations. Don’t rush. ‘Be the first on your block’ to introduce new technology into the meeting room–is for kids. Other-directed meeting-callers have depended on technology and advertising claims to make their decisions and cases–and lost. Technology can’t make decisions. ‘Computer-aided-everything’ is a profitable sales idea–but first pay attention to the ‘aided’ element of the phrase. Aids-choice requires authoritative knowledge of message. Military ISD offers algorithms.

Don’t start with hardware! Increased comfort-of-viewing underlies most A/V technological advances (other than the computer itself). As an element of the surround, comfort contributes only incrementally to learning: unmeasurable in most company circumstances and probably not worth the added time or effort.

To select the proper technology to help deliver your message, first determine what specifics must be delivered in your current or next meeting/training session. For help on this “message” topic, see our prior Blogs.

Next, determine what categories of tools and A/V would aid in making your message and objectives clear to meeting/training participants. Such categories include new tools, prototypes, samples, demonstration/taste/ feel, case histories…and technology, including simple slides. Non-commercial exhibits present unspoken visual comprehension.

Remember: a computer-and-screen is only a fancy chalkboard. New chalk-boards are blank. Ditto, new computers. You enter meaningful material onto blackboards; guess what.  Absolutely nothing can do absolutely everything. Nor can anyone! You need real help based on facts, cases, and qualified opinions. Those are few.

Some books offer chapters prepared by numerous recognized authorities. Yet, no matter how valid the individual chapters, they usually don’t add up to cohesive, workable systems. If books on meetings topics were/are discursive, readers must cut-and-paste into probably-inadequate meeting planning structures. Does the given book present a workable system?

Magazines love tips: they’re plentiful, easy, short, and perfect for filling unused space. Readers cut-and-paste. No system. In short, ersatz “help.” They can’t photograph or sell you your own message. There’s a paucity of worthwhile information in even business journals. Their editors usually defer to the meetings industry press’ editors and viewpoints, because “Don’t they know best?” Obviously not!

The original concept and title we created for “Achieving Objectives in Meetings” has become a standard concept in the meetings professions and essential trade(s). ‘Achieving objectives’ as a communications key is finally being rehabilitated (in different words) by industry-associations that have previously down-played that concept.

Meetings can be improved significantly without extravagant spending when the methods and technology used are chosen with concern for–and protection of–intelligent, do-able messages, aided by proper tools and practice. Aided–not necessarily ‘technology-aided.’

Message-control is free; it’s based on brain, not budget! Now, how much more attention can you pay to the message?

For citations of ignored fundamental research, see; then ‘Business Writing.’ At ‘Recognition,’ button, see our bibliography for ‘A&SP/Granddaddy’ button (at base of Note): It’s proof that useful research was long available.

For later presentations of useful specific research findings, largely military, see ‘Recognition/Industry’; then “FirstTake” magazine (p13 of 48); and also ‘AOM & Early Mag articles’ button.

For comprehensive information and procedures re: meetings needs and aids, you might see our “Sales Meetings That Work.”

For hotel-related methodology, see tomorrow’s blog.


1 thought on “Technology: Boon or Bust or Both”

  1. User Avatar
    Anuradha Subramanian

    Can’t agree more. A message conveyed poorly is a message lost. With globally dispersed stakeholders, it is important to ensure the means of communication is appropriate. I would love to hear your thoughts on archiving meeting/messaging content for reusability and to keep history.

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