Conference Notes

Workshop Experiments – Where to put those items you no longer want to hold

I head to the United States at the end of next week, and will be presenting a custom version of the User Adoption Strategies Workshop at a client conference in Florida. Whenever I go away I allow myself a small budget to “experiment” with new ideas, new gear, and sometimes new bags (the latter of which often doesn’t fit the criteria of a “small” budget!). My main experiment on this trip is a way to stop losing the things I use during a workshop when I put them down. A whiteboard pen for example, when I have finished writing on the board. Or my wireless presenter, when I want both hands to emphasize some points during a case study or other story. And of course my trusty black sports whistle, which is always very effective at re-capturing attention after a workshop discussion.

My normal approach to the above items is to put them in my front pockets (which I don’t like doing), to put them down on the lecturn or a chair at the front, or … to just put them somewhere else. And then I get so engrossed in the story or discussion that when I return to presentation mode, I have to look around to discover where I put the particular item. It’s not a big deal, but it presents an opportunity for improvement in my view. Or at least an experiment to try a different way.

So here’s the experiment: wear a Arc’teryx Aperture Chalk Bag (in black) on my waist in the middle of my back. My pen, wireless presenter, and whistle will go in here when I start, and whenever I stop to put one of these items down, it goes straight back into the chalk bag. I don’t do rock climbing, so I purchased this specifically for the experiment. I’ve tried this experiment three weeks ago in a facilitated discussion down here in New Zealand, and it worked great, except I pushed it a bit far by having pens of different colour in the chalk bag, and when I wanted to find a particular colour, I had to bring all of them out to make my selection. In Florida I’ll limit the number of items to three, each with a different shape for tactile-only identification.

Do you have any experiments on the go at the moment? Would you do my one in your work?

(One of my friends commented that the trick with this experiment will be to not make it “geeky.” I said the intent was very much not to be geeky but immensely practical, and he got that, but maintained his concern about the perception of geekiness. I’ll see how it goes.)