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Main Topic: A Very Different Emphasis in Conferences & Meetings

Hosts: James Stanworth , Clyde Warden

Guest: Robert Reynolds, Ph.D.

High-Tech, But Boring
Meetings and conferences in Asia can be mind-numbing as speakers and presenters can drone on for hours while the audience sits and waits. Authority relationships have a lot to do with this, as does the standard school learning systems, where students sit and listen to teachers for hours at a time. On the other hand, Asian conferences can be very well organized, including large numbers of staff, high-tech equipment, and good food. James and Clyde get together with Robert to talk about some of the special situations foreigners coming to Asia should be aware of.

One interesting aspect of life in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore is how making rules for everything seems to be the standard approach to all issues. When students need to get more excited about their studies and increase their feeling of esprit de corps, the standard response is to require attendance to some activity and require everyone to have fun. All is documented in detail with video and photos. Later, the evidence is enthusiastically pointed to as proof positive of the increased esprit de corp. This authoritarian approach to issues is often a bit of a shock to Westerners. At conferences and meetings we can see these issues surface. The mind numbing presentations given, often by junior researchers standing in for their masters, is very difficult going at times.

Our team has sat through innumerable such meetings and presentations, but for Clyde, the best was when a professor was invited to give a lecture on making interesting presentations. During the presentation, the speaker was literally reading from the power point, on the screen, with his back to the audience. The text he was reading said that one should always face the audience and not read from the screen when making a presentation. No one in the room even raised an eyebrow though; the purpose to be there was not to actually listen and learn, but to sign in when entering so they could prove they attended the required presentation—proof of their esprit de corps.

The word is SCHMOOZE, or in Chinese, a better word is BAI BAI 拜拜.

The Show:

Length: 1 hour 3 minutes. Download MP3 28.84MB (Right click->Save As).


Consumer Cam ConsumerCam:

Vid. 1) A mind-numbing presentation example by a student, representing her professor
Vid. 2) A typical example by a professor, a bit better, but still emphasis on reading.
Vid. 3) A presenter from Australia, who starts out with Google Maps, to show where research location, and right away moves away from the podium.
Vid. 4) Technical difficulties are SOP in Taiwan conferences.
Vid. 5) Others have experienced this issue in Japan (from YouTube).

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