It’s time to flip your business meeting model. The norms for teaching and presenting information in the classroom are making a 180-degree about face, and this change has tremendous implications for business leaders. When Generation Z – the Internet generation – enters the workforce, their expectations for business presentations will be drastically different from those today. If you don’t change with them, no one is going to pay attention to you anymore.
The Flipped Classroom
Robert Heitmeier, general manager of PolyVision, a teaching and learning technology company, explained to me that the old norm for teaching was the “sage on the stage” delivering lectures and then students working through that thinking as homework.
The old norm for business presenting was “death by PowerPoint,” with a presenter standing in front of a darkened room sharing (or reading slide-by-slide) information. A typical one-hour meeting would be scheduled for 45 minutes of presentation, followed by 15 minutes of questions. Unfortunately, those meetings would typically start five minutes late and the presenter would run 10 minutes over, squeezing out all the questions.
Easy access to video is changing the way people teach and learn. In what’s referred to as the “flipped classroom” model, students watch lectures at home before class, and then work through the thinking together in the classroom. This model will alter peoples’ expectations of business presentations as well, switching the bias to sharing information before the meeting so that the meeting can focus on meaningful conversation.
The Flipped Business Meeting
There are only four things people do in a meeting: learn, contribute, decide or waste time. The highest value activity is deciding, followed by contributing based on learning. The takeaway from the flipped classroom model is that information sharing can happen outside of the meeting to free time for information digesting and application in the meeting, as a group.
Of course learning is an important use of time. It’s just that people learn in different ways. As Heitmeier puts it,
“When you have to retain the attention of auditory, visual, kinesthetic and tactile learners simultaneously, one way of presenting or teaching is futile. Presenters must learn to embrace these different ways rather than dismiss them.”
Let people absorb information on their own before meetings so you can use meeting time for conversations, contribution and decisions.
Emerging Technologies for Business Presentations
PolyVision’s interactive whiteboards and tools enable all sorts of interactive learning in classrooms, across classrooms and in areas where there are no classrooms. They are out in front of the mobile wave described in my earlier interview with MicroStrategy CEO Michael Saylor. PolyVision is creating “we” spaces described in my column on how office layout impacts culture.
Businesses evolve on a continuous basis. We’re all new leaders all the time, adjusting to our evolving world. This change in how we learn is significant. Generation Z grew up with technology right along side their Sippy cups. This generation is already learning differently in schools and they certainly will not sit still for boring PowerPoint presentations. If you don’t flip the way you communicate before they enter the workplace, you will never have a chance to connect and engage with them.
This is a good example of step 5 of The New Leader’s Playbook: Drive Action by Activating and Directing an Ongoing Communication Network (Including Social Media)
Everything communicates. You can either make choices in advance about what and how you’re going to communicate or react to what others do. It is important to discover your own message and be clear on your platform for change, vision, and call to action before you start trying to inspire others. It will evolve as you learn, but you can’t lead unless you have a starting point to help focus those learning plans. Identify your target audiences. Craft and leverage your core message and master narrative. Monitor and adjust as appropriate on an ongoing basis.