For eight years I worked as an adviser at the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development. My specialism was learning, training and development and nothing irritated me more than retired trainers writing in and telling me where my work could be improved. Many of these correspondents had given up work before technology had made any appreciable impact.
Now that I myself am retired I have starting attending lunchtime gallery talks at the British Museum (BM). The BM is a marvellous institution where a deliberate effort has been made it make it more accessible to all. The place is buzzing as a result. My wife and I have taken out Friends Memberships but the talks are open to all. Despite my resolution to stand back in retirement I e-mailed the BM in the following terms:
Over the last few weeks I have found time to attend two lunchtime gallery talks. To stress the positive aspects, both speakers were well informed and added a great deal to the visitor’s appreciation and understanding of what was on display. However there was evident scope for improvement in the approach to presentation. Specifically, neither speaker began by introducing herself personally (indeed they did not give their names); it would have assisted if they had just given some detail on their background and expertise. It would also have assisted if they had set out the wider context of their talk at the outset and indicated what extra knowledge the audience could expect to gain (the learning objectives). Further, the focus of the talk must be the exhibits in the cabinets. This presents difficulties given the size of the audience and the first speaker used a set of illustrative handouts that only she could see.
I went on to question whether those presenting had received adequate support and whether they had been offered any guidance from the Museum’ specialist education and training staff. So far I have received no reply. I am sure my analysis is correct but wonder if I should have written.