Turn off the beamer

[Update]
Unconsciously I added the word beamer here to mean video projector (damn Germans). This might be an occasion to show up on the Nothing for ungood blog.
[/Update]

As I sat today in a meeting, I noticed what the problem with meetings is that are led and directly protocoled on the beamer at the same time. As I sat there, I was rather bored, and couldn’t follow the content. So, what is the problem?

Basically, you have two conscious processing modes in your brain. The one is mainly done in the left hemisphere and is called linear processing. In linear processing mode you follow up on language, writing, similarities. This processing mode is mostly used by technical workers. The other processing is the rich processing mode. This mode is asynchronous, as it searches all the things you learned long ago while doing it’s job. For example abstractions, and painting are done in the right hemisphere in this way.

Now, the problem is, that you can just use one or the other at times. When the linear thinking is in process, your right part of the brain can’t communicate over the shared communication channel. Andy Hunt introduces this model as a two CPU with a shared bus model in Pragmatic Thinking and Learning.

Now, let’s get back to our meeting. Most of the meetings I’m invited to are meetings to solve a problem. Now, problem-solving uses the right part of your brain the most. You need to seek past solutions, build upon them to solve the new problem at hand. When the beamer is turned on, and the protocol is directly typed into a word document, your left brain constantly interferes the problem-solving right brain part communication while taking a look on the letters in the document. With every typo your problem-solving abilities get distracted, and abandoned. Seriously, you’re hurting your progress more than you might be aware of!

Instead of constantly writing down for everyone the actions you considered, think about my proposal:
TURN THAT BEAMER OFF! NOW!

Sure, this needs some more thought for your meeting. This needs more preparation for it. But maybe exactly these unprepared meetings are the root cause of the problem at all. So, to reach highly productive meetings, simply leave the beamer off, or ask to work through the meeting without the beamer in case you’re not the meeting facilitator. Your meeting results and your colleagues might enjoy it. Oh, and just in case your participants are not prepared, postpone the meeting. You’ll be better off, anyways.

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3 thoughts on “Turn off the beamer”

  1. I completely second this. Beamer/Projector should be turned off, except you really want to present/demo things. Once you’re done with it, turn it off again. If you have to demo three or four things in a meeting, while talking, discussing or finding a solution, you might choose a nice, non-distracting, ambient-like image or something similar. Just to indicate that there’s nothing interesting or valueable to see on the wall.

    1. Thanks for the hint, Jussi. Printed out some copies of the poster, as it really can help.

      @Ilker: Indeed, I left out demonstrations and interactions with some software out here. These are vital, as you gain experience and synthesis in your right brain part. Theoretical analysis is done in the left part.

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