Successful Events 2: Keep the Big Mouths Shut

A few years ago I attended a wonderful physical education conference in Rio de Janeiro. Besides myself and a couple of other people the entire conference participants were Brazilians. The wonderful thing about the conference was that it was highly participatory. We did outdoor problem solving courses, martial arts, and ultimate frisbee to name a few. However, part way into the conference someone gave a lecture on something that I can’t remember. During the lecture about 50% of the group was sleeping. I remember everything about the other workshops that were active, but I can’t even recall the subject in the lecture.


People rarely remember the words of even the greatest speeches and the most important ones that have ever been spoken are often very short. People remember the events where they were able to participate fully. If there is to be speaking, it is much more effective in small groups where everyone has an equal voice and where they are able to share personal things.

Last year I sent one of my volleyball teams to a local tournament. After about 30 minutes of play, the whole tournament stopped, some dignitary walked in and proceeded to speak for about 40 minutes. As hard as I try I cannot think of a more ridiculous way to plan an event. Who cares what he has to say? The players certainly don’t. Who was he speaking to? The air?

My rule is simply this. Very few speeches and lots of interaction and activity. I think about planning an event as if the group were 5 year olds. I have 5 minutes at the most for talking before they need to get involved in activity. How many times have you gone to boring events where people just get up and give speeches in order to self-glorify themselves? The days of long speeches are long gone. Let’s get over them.

One of my real pet peeves these days are the LCD projectors where people hook up what they are going to say to a computer and then project it for everyone to see and then they read it. What an abuse of good technology!!!! I think they were designed to show interesting pictures, not boring outlines.

The key to planning events is getting people involved and the best way to keep people from being involved is through a lot of speeches. It is how to put people to sleep. Let them have a real experience!!!!

1 Comments on “Successful Events 2: Keep the Big Mouths Shut”

  1. Absolutely! Thanks for the inspiration to keep people involved and active in my teaching. Even if it looks productive to lecture for 50 minutes, I just know it’s not, and I will do something different.

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