I have been conspicuously absent from the blogging scene the past 2 1/2 weeks? I wish I could say it was because I was off at some exotic destination, enjoying a much needed vacation. Sadly, my story is not that exciting.
In reality, I’ve just been focused on meeting some really important business deadlines. That distraction has inhibited my ability to focus on writing. The great news is I am back on the blogging trail.
In between business projects I have attended several educational events. Among the highlights were several excellent presentations at SOBCon. I’ve written about those (May 7 & May 8) in recent blog articles. Unfortunately, I also participated in a couple of other events that were downright awful. Plain and simple, the presenters were boring, and the content provided very little value to me.
So my question is what makes an educational presentation excellent? Is it the quality of the education content? Is it in the presenter’s delivery? Or, is there some special formula that really contributes to getting audiences engaged? What do you think? Here are some of my thoughts…
Magic of Storytelling
When I was growing up, I was heavily involved in the Boy Scout program. Fortunately my troop was excellent. We were very active in the community, and most importantly, went on a lot of camping trips. I had some of the best times of my youth on those expeditions.
One of my favorite parts of camping was (and still is) sitting around a campfire, and trading stories with fellow campers. Add toasted marshmallows, hot cocoa, and s’mores and you’ve got a winner. Somewhere along the way a great story would emerge from someone. Listening intently, I would play each moment out in my head. Time always seemed to fly by!
If you want people to remember you, tell them a story “A story is the shortest distance between two people.” — Terrence Gargiulo
Reflectively, I realize now the attraction of those campfire experiences was more about audience engagement, and less about the quality of the stories. The presenters (storytellers) had a skill at capturing our interest.
According to MakingStories.net, an organizational development firm, “stories are the most efficient way of storing, retrieving, and conveying information. Since story hearing requires active participation on the part of the listener, stories are the most profoundly social form of communication.”
Bingo … there’s the answer. Public Speakers, and educators, who use storytelling as a tool in their messaging, will inevitably engage their audiences. Of course, that is assuming they have anything of value to say!
When I think back on the best presentations I have experienced, they all included some element of storytelling. I am not a huge fan of “lecture-based” learning, as my A.D.D. interferes with my ability to have any attention span whatsoever. But… tell me an interesting story, and you will have my undivided attention.
Just bring on the toasted marshmallows …
What do you think? Make sense? Would love to hear your comments!