I was designing a PowerPoint presentation about Working Out Loud. On one slide, the presentation talked about how Working Out Loud encourages users to share their work, and on another slide, the presentation talked about how after we began with our first Working Out Loud group at my organization, news about Working Out Loud began to spread through our staff by word of mouth.

For both slides, I used a different image of a megaphone. I thought the megaphone would effectively convey the concept of communicating, sharing and social networking. I should have known better.

communications

Email is a megaphone. Email let’s us push information out to one person, or a group of people. Yes, these people can respond, but email does not provide for a robust, real time conversation that can help support effective collaboration.

A website is a megaphone. We publish information we want people to read. We are not really interested in hearing from them, we are not really interested in any kind of a meaningful discourse. We have information to share, that information is posted on the website. Sometimes, there may be an opportunity for feedback, but that is more often an afterthought than anything else.

A megaphone is a megaphone. We are talking at people, not to them. We are getting information to them, we don’t want information from them. When using a megaphone, we are being loud, frontal and…well, loud.

The worlds of Working Out Loud and Yammer often intersect. Our Yammer networks will succeed if users adopt a Working Out Loud mindset. Yammer networks will succeed when people share their work in progress, when people share their questions, their challenges, their frustrations. Working Out Loud will succeed when people are given an opportunity, and/or a platform to connect with others in ways that will help them achieve goals and connect with others using 21st century skills, habits and technologies.

I shared my PowerPoint presentation with John Stepper, author of Working Out Loud. He said, in effect…”Looks great, but lose the megaphone.  We don’t use megaphones in Working Out Loud.” Stepper’s point was that megaphones imply shouting, and not listening. We listen in Working Out Loud.

Of course, he was right. Lesson learned.

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