The conference method is another commonly used method of executive development. Topics such as human relations safety education, customer relations, sales training are often discussed, debated, spoken about at conferences specially organized an designed for the purpose.
A conference is a meeting of people to discuss subject of common interest The conference is structured around a small group meeting wherein a leader helps the group identify and define a problem guides the discussions along desired lines and desired lines and summarizes the view that represent the consensus of the group in dealing with the problem. The participants exchange notes, opinions ideas on a subject is a systematic planned way a conference may be divided into small groups for focused discussions. Participants are expected to air their opinions and thoughts freely. In order to ensure its success (1) participants are expected to come prepared for the conference (2) the conference leaders should conduct the sessions accordingly to a plan, giving enough room for healthy interchange of different viewpoints (3) the discussions should pressed along desired lines. And (4) the size of the group should not be too large.
Lectures are formal presentations on a topic by an experienced and knowledgeable person. The presentation is generally supported by discussions, case studies, audio visual aids and film shows. It is a simple and inexpensive way of imparting knowledge on a topic of special importance to large audience. There could be a speedy interchange of ideas on a specific topic. The method may often degenerates into a kind on one way traffic where the presenter tries to get ahead without paying attentions to the reaction of he audience If the Lectures is not interesting enough the audience may not participate and offer any feedback. The listeners play a largely non participatory role. They may ask questions but the never get the feel of what is being talked about. Moreover participants do not share each other’s experience and hence the learning is confirmed to what the presenter has to say.
The method could be used effectively if the following things are kept in mind:
1) The presentation should be interesting lively and leave enough room for healthy discussions mid way.
2) The presenter must possess excellent communication and interpersonal skills. Adequate preparation must precede the actual presentation
3) To enrich the presentation audio visual aids, examples cases and real life incidents should be used freely encouraging the audience to participate freely. Better to set time limits to the lecture since listeners tend to switch of completely beyond a point (say one or two hours).
In this method papers are presented by two or three trainees on a selected topic, followed by stimulating discussions. The topics for discussions are selected in advance and the papers concerning the same written by various participants are printed and circulated beforehand. It is a variant of the lecture method and is generally preferred where the intention is to get wide circulation ad participation to a number of experts sharing their experiences with a fairly large group of individuals.
It is based on certain behavioral laws particularly dealing with reinforcement. Reinforcement means rewarding correct response and punishing a wrong one. A major feature of PI is that offers immediate feedback on whether the trainee has answered questions correctly or not.
PI a learner oriented technique which presents subject matter to the trainees in small, sequential steps, requiring frequent responses from the trainee and immediately offering him of their accuracy or otherwise. If the response is accurate he takes up the next level, if not he is asked to go back and start again. The instructions are carefully planned moving from the simple to complex ones in a smooth way.
A major plus point of the method is that it allows the trainees to learn in small steps at a pace and rate suitable to him. He takes active part throughout the programs Printed instructions could be offered by experts keeping individual differences in mind. Regular feedback helps the trainers to improve material continuously. A computer aided format can be placed in the ands of trainers with an instruction manual for getting excellent results. On the negative aids the impersonal atmosphere may not be every stimulating. The cost of designing such programs is generally high. It is not suitable for trying to bring about behavioral changes.