Friday, November 4, 2011

How to communicate

A few years back, I had the great opportunity to sit in one of the trainings conducted by this “one man army”. He blew us away by his knowledge, his timing and his ability to hold nearly a room full of people with about 10 odd years of technology experience. So, with about 15 people, effectively it came to about 150 years of experience. And he was able to convince us all – regardless of what questions we threw at him – on the subject at hand. The best part of it was that he was not the slick, suave, savvy presenter that you think would do this. His language was quite rusty – not some convent educated fake accented English – he did not use any jargon – he used a lot of common sense and simple examples and in my books, he will perhaps be the best trainer who I have ever trained under. Why? He was able to connect with the audience like no other. No fake smiles, no brotherhood – just pure subject matter expertise – and ability to relate and connect with people and their field of work.

That actually took me back to a performance I had attended many years back. Actually couple of them. The Chakyar Koothu (I have had the privilege of attending more than one of these sessions by a master story teller, who is no more) is one example as are the professional traditional story tellers. They are usually seen at festivals and they tell stories. It is usually one person telling the story and they are usually accompanied by one or two musicians. They break into a song or a quote from the scriptures or joke about or even dramatize a bit. But each point they make drives the story ahead. And each digression they make brings them back to the main story. Each audience example they quote hammers the point into the audiences head. Great communicators they are – as much as they are great influencers. They hold the audience spellbound with their delivery.

Watch any great TED talk and you will find that much is common to the above two paragraphs as well.

And in the end there is no difference between a great facilitator or a great story teller…

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