Thursday, April 03, 2014

The Superiority of Backroads

My road buddy.....

I chose to do a grand southern road trip for Up 2 All of Us and Ecosystem 2014 this year.

My initial thinking - since it was easier for me to drive down to Greensboro, NC...then I was looking at turning around, driving BACK to DC, THEN getting on a plane to Orlando the next day...I might as well drive the whole loop.

With the weather being as dodgy as it was ... best choice I've made in awhile.  I would have never made it to Ecosystem 2014.

Besides, I figured the road trip would give me the opportunity to:
- take the Mustang out for a lengthy road trip
- Visit an uncle in the Florida Panhandle I haven't seen in 20 years
- See the extended family in Merritt Island (just MISSED getting a winning lottery ticket) and Orlando without worrying about transportation
- See some friends I haven't seen in 18 years in Savannah
- eat REAL BBQ (not the stuff that passes for BBQ in the mid-Atlantic)

I forgot how much I enjoy driving off-interstate.

The quickest route between Greensboro, NC and Monticello, FL is mostly US and Georgia state highways once you hit Augusta.

I discovered that driving the backroads is a lot less tiring than just zoning out on the interstate.
4 hours on I-95 was a LOT more exhausting than 7 hours noodling between Augusta and Monticello.

I suspect it is the forced interruptions of small towns, interesting turns, varying landscapes.
The rhythm of cruising spots interspersed with areas you MUST pay attention.

Having a working GPS helped with the confidence-level. Google Navigator on mobile phones = best use of mobile devices EVER. 
Those forced interruptions in really good conferences, classes, online sessions and workshops are the things that make those work.

Not the constant pounding of information in an effort to "get it all in".

The interruptions need to be a variety of activity.  Not "ok - let's take a 10 minute break."

Personally - I've tried to keep the courses I've designed under 60 minutes (under 30 if I can help it). Mostly because I find my audiences over the years have balked at longer sessions.  And, honestly, because I find teaching sessions longer than that tiring.

Still - for longer engagements, I have to keep in mind that if I can manage to provide different activities (not "ok, let's change subjects" or "let's look at another program on this computer" ) I'd likely have a better chance of having an engaged audience. The trick will be to have that activity still point folks towards the objective(s).

It was a good thing to learn.  And I think I may take backroads more frequently.


Brian Dusablon said...

Good stuff, Wendy. Backroads provide a much more interesting experience, if nothing else. And often discoveries that one would never have were it not for backroads and small towns and interesting people.

Glad you're writing more. I aim to follow your lead...

Here's to exploring!

Cortney Paretzkin said...

I am a graduate student in OD at Roosevelt University ( and am learning about how to keep your audience engaged during training by doing all of the things you referenced in your post. What I am finding that is so great about this field is that it comes up in various ways in my personal life and I am able to apply my learnings not only professionally, but personally too. Thanks for sharing your experience.