Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Humans Being...

The path this post travels may seem a little random... that's OK. It's a reflection of how my mind has been working over the last few days as snapshots of insight entered my nemisphere, and what may have seemed unrelated at first, all of a sudden became related.

If you were old enough in the 1960's to be aware of the 60's, you probably know who Barry McGuire is, and even if you don't, if you listen to music at all, you probably have heard this song...



I wasn't old enough to get the 60's, but I am old enough now to reflect on what was going on back then, and music like this helps me do that. I was listening to The Roy Green Show yesterday while driving around, and Barry McGuire was one of his guests. I added him to my list of people I would most want to sit down and have coffee with... a very interesting guy. As he was telling some of his stories he mentioned that a spiritual awakening saved his life back in the day. It was interesting to hear him explain that he was glad to have had Eve of Destruction as his only #1 single because another one would have killed him. The zeitgeist of # 1 singles during that tumultuous time was deadly I guess.

Engaging Classrooms II

Rule of Engagement #2: Listen to students... if you want them to listen to you. Engaging groups of learners teach each other.

flickr photo via denise carbonell

Some time ago I wrote a post called Engaging Classrooms Manage Themselves. At the time I committed to more on the topic. In a Twitter dialog at #speakchat last week I was reminded of my commitment hence this second installment. By the way, if you're a teacher and you haven't visited #speakchat, it's a fantastic weekly chat to pick up creative tips from others who predominantly speak to audiences of adults; a challenging adventure. (If you've provided professional development for other teachers you know how difficult it can be speaking engagingly to adults.)

As the #speakchat exchange centered around speaking in engaging ways, I began thinking that the quickest way to lose an audience is to focus the conversation on one speaker... I have yet to participate in a successful dialog, with one or many, where participants remain engaged without the opportunity to contribute. Then Todd Whitaker tweeted this point...


Todd
     Todd 


Sean Grainger
 Sean Grainger 
@ToddWhitaker Totally agree... speakers do that by appreciating audience's input/valuing their knowledge and respecting their experience. 

There is nothing worse than an arrogant speaker who approaches dialog as if he was the only one who had anything worthwhile to say. I have attended these lectures before and it is not fun, or engaging. Speakers who suffer from Humility Deficit Disorder have a hard time engaging their audience.

On the other hand, speakers who look to their audience as a group of people with knowledge and expertise that will enhance the conversation more often than not grab the lion's share of their attention. Truly skilled speakers are those who understand they just might come up against an audience member someday who can make them look pretty silly as they project an arrogant tone like "I am the one who knows here, so sit back, listen and learn from me as I blow you mind with my vast knowledge and expertise." That quiet person who knows more and has done more than the speaker will occasionally feel compelled to speak up, and at that point, the sage on the stage is out there, vulnerable and searching for his next move. That's a tight bind to stick-handle out of. Humble pie anyone?

So why not view your audience as an asset as opposed to a liability? Why not view it as a resource providing knowledge and experience instead of just a receiver of your knowledge and experience? 

The best way to speak engagingly is to temper how much you speak... let the audience in on the show.
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