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....and many other thoughts about facilitation, coaching ( teams & individuals) and learning


  • David

ASTD - Safe is Dangerous

Updated: Mar 5, 2022

In my organization, we sometimes video-taped some class delivery and send to remote branches for their viewing. Not many colleagues there are interested in watching them. I somehow guessed that it would be the case but I do not have a clear answer…. until I attended Doug Stevenson’s session on story telling.

Here is what Doug said – Imagine, whilst you are reading a book in a beach, you suddenly find someone surfing in the sea on a huge wave. What will you do? You will continue reading or watching the surfer? Probably the latter. Why? Partly because surfing is a beautiful act, partly because you do not know what will happen in the next second – will he fall? People love uncertainty or unexpectedness in this sense. They know they can always go back to their books, but for the surfing, if they do not pay attention they may miss something great.

A video-taped presentation is just often too ‘safe’ to be attractive (….unless its other elements e.g. content / delivery skills are great like ‘The Inconvenient Truth’). The same applies to those plainly-designed live presentations where audience can readily expect what to happen next e.g. going through points shown on the screen or worse in the handout.

So, make your presentation ‘unsafe’. Build the thought to the participants that something unexpected may happen so that they will pay attention!! Of course, one way is to tell stories as what Doug advocates.

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