I Think I'm onto Something
"I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions."
- Lou Holtz (Pro-football player)
I listen to a lot of lectures, presentations, and talks. Some of these I'm exposed to through Praxis, some through my work at Tranquil Farms, and many more on YouTube. In hearing all these brilliant people speak on their areas of expertise, I've started to notice a connecting style. I feel this technique makes for some of the best, most memorable presentations.
I'm not sure if there's a name for this idea, or if I'm even really onto something. The lectures I've gotten the most out of were the ones where the Q&A session was the most enlightening part. I think letting learners find questions on their own is a vastly undervalued education resource.
The talks I remember best are the ones where the actual speech primed me, and the rest of the audience, to ask the right questions, rather than providing us with all the answers. The pre-written talk was designed to get the listener thinking. Then the real meat was conveyed later during Q&A. By making you, the learner, ask the questions rather than simply providing the answers, the speaker ensured that you would remember their response.
People love getting feedback. It's why so many of us pathologically check our phones whenever they buzz with a notification. We know someone has just replied to a text message, or interacted with something we said on social media. We love getting the feedback of others. The speakers who use their lecture to set the listener up for asking questions are tapping into our human need for feedback. They build their learners up, by guiding them to the right questions and then giving the feedback we all crave, by answering the questions raised by their students.
I just had the chance to speak about Social Media Marketing at the Mother Earth News Fair in Belton TX. I knew I would be talking to people who weren't super techy. So I didn't want to dump a load of numbers and jargon on my audience. Instead, I wanted to teach them that Social Media is so much more than selfies and memes and that some of the best marketing is just good story telling. I wanted to convince them that they should be using Blogs and Facebook to advertise their businesses.
Totally by accident (trust me I didn't think this through), I gave a talk which primed my listeners to ask the important questions, rather than me just giving them the answers. They thought through ideas I was trying give them and came up with some fantastic questions on their own. Then I was able to give them feedback in the form of answers.
I realized, after the fact, that I had accidentally given the same kind of talk that I most enjoy.
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