Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Reviewing ASHRAE DL Speakers

I made a couple of visits to speak at Canadian ASHRAE chapters last week in Montreal and Ottawa. Everyone was extremely friendly; we had a huge attendance at both chapters - over 125 in Montreal. My talk went well, even though I am not conversant in French. It seems English is pretty well understood there.

I heard repeatedly that I was one of the best speakers they had ever had. I often get that comment, and at the same time, I hear how dull and uninteresting most ASHRAE talks are, especially with the ASHRAE Distinguished Lecture (DL) speakers. There are lots of ASHRAE DL speakers. A good number of them, in an effort to establish international credibility and recognition (ASHRAE Officially dropped the “American” name when it became simply “ASHRAE”), are not fluent in English. More, it seems, are just plain dull.

Based on all the feedback I get, the reason folks like my talks is that they are interesting, sometimes humorous, informative, and always clearly making a point. Sadly, is seems many are informative, but miss the other attributes. I understand that we are mostly engineers. Engineers have a reputation for being linear thinkers and somewhat boring - but we don’t have to be. Dull speakers result in folks not ‘bothering’ to attend meetings, which is sad, because it reduces the potential for ASHRAE Engineers to gain new learning experiences. We have to make the talks interesting if we want our message to get out. This is assuming, of course, that we have a message. Sometimes I suspect, there is no message, just a data dump, which usually results in no message being retained.

So what’s my message (you suddenly ask)? Fill out the feedback forms when an ASHRAE DL speaks. Don’t be shy about your comments. If the speaker was boring, please let ASHRAE know. If he was terrific, let ASHRAE know that too. Maybe we can weed out the bad talks so more will attend the ASHRAE sessions.

Authored by: Dan Int-Hout, Chief Engineer Krueger