Speed Dating with Faculty

Amid the troubling news out of Harvard last week, it seems like a good time to share a small success story:

Last week, I was asked to give a 5 minute presentation to the faculty who are part of Stanford’s Faculty College project. The Faculty College project provides “groups of faculty the space, time and resources to create new team-taught courses, to make a major change in a department’s curriculum or to establish new cross-disciplinary teaching endeavors.” The 25 or so faculty involved meet once a quarter this year, and will start their teaching next year. Their meetings are jam-packed with presentations and discussions, so I was actually pretty pleased to finagle 5 minutes on the agenda to talk about the way the Stanford Libraries could support their projects.

After making an off-hand comment to a colleague that the 5 minute limit felt a bit like speed-dating, I decided to go with that metaphor in my actual presentation. I created a handout highlighting relevant subject librarians and other services (PDF), but decided to skip the PowerPoint since just setting up could eat up most of my 5 minutes.
I started out by telling the faculty group that 5 minutes felt like speed dating, but that I was OK with that. After all, my goal was to convince them to “date the libraries”. The two main reasons they should date us are that “We have lots of common interests”, and “We complete you”. I explained both of those briefly, and concluded with “So I hope you’ll call us”.
I finished with 40 seconds to spare, enough time for someone to ask if the librarians listed on the handout knew they might be contacted or if it would be a “blind date”?
I usually think it is way harder to give a short presentation than a long one, but in this case I think it went very well. I gave them a metaphor that will hopefully Stick, and I also made it clear that I/we really respect their time. If anything, I think some of the faculty wish I had taken up more time, which is always better than the opposite. As Walt Disney (or maybe P.T. Barnum) supposedly said, “always leave them wanting more.”

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