Decoding a Lecture

February 17, 2010

I recently attended a conference in San Diego.  It was 5 days, 6 sessions per day, and multiple lectures for each session.  After day two it became clear that there is a difference between what a lecturer says and what he/she really means. Here is a decoder to help future conference attendees:

What they say:
“I live by the motto: ‘there is no such thing as a stupid question!'”
What they mean:
“That was a stupid question!!”
What they say:
“Those are really good questions.”
What they mean:
“Again, those are really stupid questions. It is clear that you only asked them to draw attention to yourself in hopes that you will look intelligent, and you have failed miserably. You sound like an idiot, everybody is on to you. Stop wasting our time!!”
What they say:
“Does anyone have any questions?”
What they mean:
If the question was asked toward the beginning or middle of the talk it means “They told me I have to ask if there are any questions, but I really don’t care.”
If the question was asked toward the end of the lecture it means “Holy crap, I went way to fast and I need to fill space. Please, someone ask a question so that I can pigeon-hole it into a prefabbed answer that had nothing to do with the question.”
What they say:
“How many people in here are from (insert location here)?”
What they mean:
“I am so nervous I am about to wet my pants and I read in a book somewhere that this was a good ice breaker. Plus, there is an attractive women in the third row and if she tells me where she is from I will lie and say I used to live near there.”
What they say:
“. . . and to demonstrate this point, I have a video clip here in the PowerPoint presentation which played perfectly when I rehearsed yesterday.” (and then the clip fails to play properly)
What they mean:
“Playing videos in PowerPoint is hit or miss! F%^&#$#@%$#%#@%# microsoft piece of crap!! Bill Gates should be drawn and quartered as far as I am concerned. My chances with that attractive woman in the third row are now shot. Probably just as well, too, I have no idea where Kawkawlin, Michigan is, anyway.”
And lastly
What they say:
“This is something I always ask an expert on cross-examination . . .”
What they mean:
A) “This is something I always wanted to ask an expert on cross-examination, but I know that the defense would object and the judge would then plaster me in front of the jury for even thinking about asking such an inappropriate question.”
or
B) “This is something I heard someone else say they always ask an expert on cross-examination, and it never works for me, but I am going to tell you that it works because I am trying to impress that attractive woman in the third row.
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