September 10, 2012: Interactive
Organizations often seek "interactive" programs, and speakers and presenters think they'll be better received - and more likely to get their workshop proposals accepted - if they call themselves "interactive."
But "interactive" doesn't mean the same thing to everybody. And calling a session "interactive" doesn't make it "interactive."
Presenters may employ a variety of strategies in an effort to claim to be "interactive:"
1. They may announce that a session will be "interactive" (hoping people will want to participate), but then proceed to present in speaker-to-audience style. There's nothing wrong with that, but it's not "interactive."
2. Some take questions during the session, rather than wait until the end. That's usually beneficial to attendees, but it doesn't make the session "interactive."
3. Others lecture and then cut to an "interactive" exercise, which often seems out of place. It may have been included simply to classify the session as "interactive."
4. Sometimes, speakers or panel members rotate around a meeting room, so there is no front of the room. But that doesn't make a session "interactive," it just eliminates the head table or podium. And it actually stymies attendees who want to sit in a particular part of the room - to see or hear better, to participate, or to be able to quietly leave before the session ends.
If a session is truly "interactive," the session purpose, subject matter, seating arrangement, and facilitation will be conducive to attendee interaction.
Every session doesn't have to be "interactive," but just calling it "interactive" doesn't make it "interactive." And "interactive" doesn't mean better.