Rose by any other name
What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet
My suitors, drawing inspiration from the star-crossed lover, Juliet Capulet, were the well-matched duo of qualitative luminaries, usually to be found running The Nursery, Peter Dann and Lucy Banister. Their noble cause was to persuade me to deliver a presentation, 'How to Present', on the fourth Friday of the Foundation Course.
This is the slot the estimable John Rose, with inimitable cool, had invented and inhabited since the course was conceived. But now John had decided to see how he would get along without this obligation this year and they needed a replacement. The tables were turned from the previous years when I had convened the course and had called on Peter and Lucy to deliver papers. I owed them one and they were cashing in.
If I am coming across as more reluctant than enthusiastic, I was simultaneously terrified and thrilled to be asked. The terror was twofold: firstly following in the great man's footsteps, but Peter reasoned that neither the delegates nor he and Lucy had witnessed John's paper and so I would be alone in drawing the comparison; secondly it occurred to me, for the first time, that the relevance of a paper on 'presenting' was primarily in the performance - here was the test par-excellence of 'walking the talk'
Secretly, I was thrilled to be asked because I had convened the course for the previous five years and, although I was glad to be off the hook and free once again to rediscover my ski-legs, I knew I was going to miss both the speakers and the delegates. The future of qualitative research resides in the character and talent of entrants to our profession and my experience of 120 or so of them; bright as a button, keen as mustard, over the last five years fills me with optimism.
So I set about trying to 'walk the talk' in delivering what I came to call the 'Presentation Presentation' (I was trying to emulate 'New York, New York' so good they named it twice). Inspiration came from unlikely sources; most notably from my mate Bill, on a freezing chairlift in Les Arcs.
His rendering of a Cockney Music Hall favourite, 'Our 'ouse is the first ouse; next door to our 'ouse is Mr Water'ouse's 'ouse' gave me a way of illustrating how writing a debrief is about taking a walk through the findings and a chance to get the delegates on their feet in a 'sing-along' of sorts.
I enjoyed it and parting with this role will indeed be 'sweet sorrow' if the Rose returns next year with fresh vigour.
This article was first published in InBrief magazine, May 2007
Copyright © Association for Qualitative Research, 2007