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Conversational lessons from Jakarta

Posted to Gurteen Knowledge-Log by David Gurteen on 12 April 2010



Conversational lessons from Jakarta
WeblogGurteen Knowledge Log
Knowledge LetterAppears in the Gurteen Knowledge Letter issue: 118
Posted DateMonday 12 April 2010 17:46 GDT
Posted ByDavid Gurteen
PeopleAlvin Soleh 

I was recently in Jakarta to run a 2-day workshop for KM-Plus - Learning Lead. One of the challenges of such workshops is the language barrier. Although everyone can understand English and speak it quite well - it is not their native language and so me talking in English all day is huge a strain on people.

It also makes interactive sessions difficult to run as clearly the conversation with me is not so smooth flowing and it makes sense for me to allow conversation at tables in Indonesian (Bahasa Indonesia). But of course this means that I can't listen in and get a sense of what is being said.

At an earlier event in Jakarta I ran an "Introduction to KM" workshop for a large Indonesian Bank and although going fine the language barrier was clearly an issue. And so my host Alvin Soleh stepped in and we modified the day's format on the fly. I would present for about 20-30 minutes and then Alvin would run an interactive piece in Indonesian.

We carried this format through to my main two day public workshop and it worked well.

During Alvin's sessions I had time to observe and reflect and I came to the decision that I was never going to speak for more than 20 minutes again (well 30 minutes at most) before turning my talk or that part of my talk in to an interactive session of some description.

At the very least and at its simplest I will do what I often do and that is come to the end of my "chalk-and-talk", pose a question relating to my talk and then ask the participants to have a conversation at their tables. Optionally asking each table to report back to the group and for me to take questions.

If you are interested in Knowledge Management, the Knowledge Café or the role of conversation in organizational life then you my be interested in this online book I am writing on Conversational Leadership
David Gurteen

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