How to do a lecture (Presentation?)

Soumitri Does Lectures. Each lecture is an undertaking. It takes days and hours ( and the development lasts for a few weeks if not longer) – I usually work from 3 AM till 7 , when my household needs me – to develop the lecture. And then I am often unhappy, so like a good surfer I throw away the draft and start all over again. I am not a perfectionist – because the end result is seldom perfect.

In doing these lectures I aim to make a whopping big difference to the listener. I believe that the lecture is something they will never ever forget. And I have been doing this for years – 19 to be precise. I have hundreds of students who still remember things I said, or so they claim, in some lecture. Years ago I was in a community of university teachers in Delhi, ah that haven of the intellect how I miss it, who all put in as much if not more into their every interaction with the student. Sheena used to do these awesome lectures which involved her building propositions upon propositions like building – and then saying at the end ‘viola’ or more her style ‘ there’. I learnt from her how to prepare, how to respect the student, and how to respect the window of interaction that is given to us – the class.

As I speaker I obsess about who you are, what you need to hear and how I can help. I often start by developing a provocative line of thought. I then start embroidering it and go on and on till often the line of argument has to be abandoned – because I begin to feel that the way the argument was developing was another lecture – and not the one I wanted to do now. So start again. How many starts, how many unfinished projects? Will give yo a peek into my folders.

On Friday like many of you I landed up at 10.10.01. But it was 12.12.01 – you have asked yesterday if I can do a repeat performance. I can – and I would be honoured to redo for you “Understanding the sustainability movement”. Thank you for asking. I live for encores. You asked if I could re-do the ‘different histories’ lecture – again I would be honoured. Like all those academies of higher learning where minds gather – I would like to propose a post dinner lecture on a day that works for both of us.

I also have a lecture I did for ‘politics of Space in the age of terror’ conference in June. The question session after my presentation was violent, fractious and deeply polarised the audience. I felt disturbed after that. Some thing similar happened on Friday. I must admit I set out to disturb the smug morality of the greens – and the result was not pleasant.

Usually after the lecture I am spent. Phew! Time to move on.

(For inspiration read Magister Ludi or The Glass Bead Game by Herman Hesse.


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