Halloween, that most American of holidays, takes place on October 31, 2011. This article series is a humorous look at some of the scary creatures that lurk in the dark corners of any presentation.
In Part one we examined strategies for vanquishing the Invisible Participant, the Poltergeist, and the Dominator. In Part two we looked for ways to conquer the Fly, the Bloviator, and the Zombie. In Part three we learned how to defeat the Grim Reaper, the Caustic Clown, and the Ghost Whisperer
This article offers strategies for conquering the Black Widow, the Vampire, and the Robo-teacher.
The Black Widow – This creature’s attacks are insidious. Whenever a break is called, the Black Widow corners the presenter and traps him in a web of inane commentary that prevents the poor presenter from reaching the bathroom.
When confronted by a Black Widow, refuse to be cornered. Start walking towards the door. The Widow will likely follow. Don’t worry. Few will follow a presenter all the way into a bathroom. Many will be constrained by limited bathroom access owing to differences in gender. Others will feel no such constraint. But, bladders being full as they are, the alternative is to wait until the next break, which will likely then come sooner than you had intended.
The Vampire – Sucking the life out of your classroom, this creature complains about everything. The room may be too cold, the coffee too strong, the chairs too hard, the material too simple, and the participants too stupid. If you do not drive a stake through this behavior, your classroom will sink into a graveyard-like funk.
Some vampire vamps can be stopped by pleasurable distractions. Others require sympathy. Weaker vampires will slink away once they have had their say. Stronger vampires cannot be so easily controlled. They demand direct intervention. Pull the vampire aside and seek its understanding. If that doesn’t work, employ a dominator strategy as listed above.
The Robo-Teacher – This series has, so far, focused on those creatures most likely to be found in the participant population. There is, unfortunately, a larger danger. It is a sinister, deadly creature, known to sap the curiosity out of even the most eager learner.
Robo-teacher syndrome is an evil that must be carefully guarded against. The illness starts as instructor boredom, which progresses into tired presentation, and eventually degenerates into energy-sucking, mind-numbing, monosyllabic nonsense. Very few students have a chance against an instructor in the grip of this living sleep.
There is, fortunately, an easy cure. The illness has been effectively avoided by presenters who feel and demonstrate a passion for their subject, stay current on the latest relevant research, care deeply about both their presentation and learners, and seek help or quit at the first sign of this illness.
Although creatures lurk in classroom corners, an effective presenter can scare these ghouls away with decisive, unafraid action. And if none of the solutions listed above work, serve candy. All of these creatures have been known to go from door to door seeking mini-treats. But beware then of a different kind of creature: the sugar-hyped, overly energized, Speed Demon.