Not just another conference…

Welcome to the first post for the FlyPharma Conference 2017! Kicking us off with a post that chimes perfectly with the uniquely interactive style of FlyPharma is Hugh Williams, Managing Director of Hughenden Consulting, who will be leading two of our main panel and surgery sessions.

Another conference, another opportunity to make new contacts and expand my thinking!

My only concern is, will it be like last time? Death by PowerPoint! I see presentations at conferences all the time, where potentially interesting messages are underwhelmed by the lack of engagement from the speaker, who relies solely on their PowerPoint presentation. I see PowerPoints regularly at our internal meetings – full of words. I also see them circulated by email and featuring numerous reports – full of numbers!

I know for some people this style suits their organised minds brilliantly, but for me, I need a bit more interactivity and engagement to get my mind buzzing. Being presented to by PowerPoint is a very passive experience for an audience. It makes me wonder why nearly everyone does it. Are they using it as a prompt, are they not sure of their subject matter or, worse still, just out of habit?

Don’t get me wrong, non-interactive presentations happen everywhere, not just in supply chain – but I think our industry is particularly bad at it.

So, interactivity – what is it? The English dictionary defines it as:

  • being the process of two people or things working together and influencing each other; or
  • the ability of a computer to respond to a user’s input.

I know which definition I prefer! I want speakers engaging with an audience in debates, workshops and true discussion. Skilfully interacting with us and making new ideas feel familiar and therefore opening our minds to them.

What I want is a truly engaging learning experience. Such interaction does not need to be hi-tech. Getting me to talk to other delegates and sharing our conclusions with the speaker, this helps us to both network and to immediately cement our thinking and confirm our understanding of new ideas.

Also, small regular interactions with the audience also work well. Some presenters include questions about the subject of the presentation and get the audience to guess at the answers. “How many containers do you think the world’s largest container ships can carry?” Not difficult, but an interesting fact that will enhance the presentation.

Not to belittle PowerPoint – used well, it is a useful tool for reinforcing key messages and for accenting presentations with pictures (which we all know speak a thousand words).

All in all, let us hope that interactivity is injected into some of the sessions, so that for those of us who need stimulation to learn, other than listening, can get the best from the conference!

As Vincent van Gogh said, “I would rather die of passion than of boredom”.

P.S. In case you are wondering, the largest container ship is currently MSC Zoe, built in 2015 – and it can carry 19,224 containers!

Hugh Williams will be leading the panel ‘Is Faster Better?’ on Day 1 and also our ‘Pharma Surgery’ on Day 2 of the FlyPharma Conference. Click here to view Hugh’s speaker profile.