Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Encouraging for observations in training sessions

Among my many identities, I'm a speaker and an organizer. Being an organizer gives me chances of watching a wide variety of other speakers in action, and has proved to be invaluable source of ideas of things I want to improve on myself. As an organizer, I'm also often invited into the dialogue of what I thought of the session, further deepening my understanding of what and why goes on when someone speaks.

Yesterday I organized two sessions and co-presented one of them. The sessions were ones in the series of many similar ones, but every delivery is unique in some way. For me, yesterday's sessions were special as to noticing that over repetition, I've learned to really appreciate the way Llewellyn Falco primes his audience for observations - to share what you learn, both ideas in your head and things you think you're seeing. And because some of you may not have had a chance to experience and observe that, I decided to share it in writing.

What the audience is observing could be anything where something is going on. Collecting everyone's input seems to be particularly good for sessions where some are active volunteers in mob doing something while others watch. But it's equally valuable to get the voices and ideas heard in a team that just all collaborated focusing on getting something done and would benefit from sharing things around the doing.

The three messages to encourage observation

Llewellyn uses three points to encourage observation.
  1. On obvious things, half of us miss the obvious. 
  2. We see and hear things that are not there.
  3. We need everyone's perspective to build a fuller picture.
Each of the points comes with a video and an explanation. Watch the video and read then the commentary.

The first video is about inattentional blindness. Llewellyn let's the audience watch the video with the sounds, stopping the video just before the number of passes is show to check with how many passes people saw (just asking the number) and who saw the animal. With this video, he deliver the point:
Many things happen during the session we observe, and none of them is as obvious as the gorilla on the video. And yet, half of people miss even that. 
 He encourages everyone to share what they observed. Anything. It could be something the session leads you to think about, something internal. It could be about anything going on in the session. Every observation is valuable.

The second video Llewellyn starts off at about 30 seconds into it.  He lets people get into the faa/baa difference with the video to then deliver his point.

Some of the things you experienced might be things others did not experience as they were not there for others. Your observations are uniquely colored by your experiences.
 You see things that weren't there for others, unless you share them with others.

The third video is about forced perspective and how easily people can be fooled. Again Llewellyn delivers a point:
One person has forced perspective, but as a group, our different perspectives draw a fuller picture that is more realistic.
My thoughts on this

For some reason, I was comparing my observations on the audience reactions yesterday. The audiences would appear to respond better when primed with the encouragement, and the videos leave people on a good mood.

In work settings, showing the videos once might make a good impact, but practice improves things more. Feedback regularly teaches us to observe what we're doing.

I find these little tricks people do absolutely fascinating. Every speaker needs to find their own voice and style, but I wanted to share this as one example of a great style to break the ice. With post-it notes from everyone, it's at least a great cultural fit for Finland.