I sat through yet another data dump the other day; twenty mind-numbing minutes of facts, figures and charts. At the end of the presentation, I not only remembered no details of any importance, but I had no clue what I was supposed to learn from it
And yet, the speaker seemed to be quite pleased with himself. He had successfully covered his material with no major errors. He even commented that he was happy to see that no one had any questions.
Neither I, nor I suspect anyone else there, had any questions because we had no idea what his point was.
I’m tempted to say he had failed as a speaker, except that I have a hunch he succeeded completely at his true goal, which was to avoid saying anything at all for which he could be held accountable.
That seems to be the goal of a lot of speakers.
Of course, some speakers simply have nothing to say. They don’t know enough to take a stand. They were told to present the data, so they present the data for their betters to interpret, casting the bones before the elders.
More often though, I think they present the data because that is generally uncontroversial. Opinions, recommendations and conclusions can sometimes ruffle a few feathers, so they err on the side of caution; presenting the known, the established, the unquestionable.
By simply dumping all of the data on the audience, they avoid the responsibility of making decisions; decisions about what is relevant, decisions about what is significant and decisions about what it all means.
They avoid the only good reason to listen to them at all.