On Tuesday night, I told the audience at my Central Meeting in Hackensack, NJ something that wasn’t true. In this neck of the woods, people are very into the Yankees-Red Sox playoffs series. The high school that hosted the meeting provided wireless Internet access, so at the conclusion of my meeting I popped open my PowerBook, accessed the score, and announced to the crowd that the score was 2-0 in the second inning. That part was true. The problem was, I told this audience of ~230 people that the score was 2-0 in favor of the Red Sox. That part, as many of you may know, was not true. To make matters worse, during the reception afterwards in the lobby, I told people that the score was 6-0 (true) in favor of the Red Sox (definitely not true). I didn’t realize my error until I was driving back to my hotel, listening to the game on the radio, and they kept talking about Mike Mussina (the Yankee pitcher) and his perfect game through 6 innings. I suddenly realized my error (I think I saw the score, and just assumed the Red Sox were winning, for no particular reason)) and wondered if people would reconsider my credibility about everything else I had said that night.
I’m over that fear now, but last night’s final presidential debate made me think even more about the format of our central meetings and information sessions. As you might guess, I do many presentations on MIT each year. And, for the most part, I’m generally discussing the same talking points. I have plenty of stories, and I know waaay too much about MIT, but my job is to, in 30 or 60 or 90 minutes, encapsulate everything about MIT. So I hit on the central themes of MIT’s culture, the application process, and financial aid. And in order to have a good amount of time for audience Q&A (which really is the most fun part), I’m constantly trying to do a balancing act between telling the stories that provide flavor and being concise. Often, I’ll speak for longer than I intend (though I’m much better at sticking to time limits than I was when I first started in this job) because I really want for you to understand all of those things that make MIT special and unique. So, I hope in the Q&A, you’ll ask some good questions which will allow me to tell you even more about MIT, to draw on all that I’ve learned over my time as an MIT student, staff member, and alumnus.