Monday, February 7, 2011

The Best of Both Worlds

I just spent a great week traveling the state of Oregon with Sara Nilles, Program Director of the Oregon Association of Student Councils.  They have over 190 member schools in Oregon and do a great job teaching, guiding and motivating middle school and high school student leaders in the ways of leadership excellence.  She invited me in to present three hours of leadership lessons each day at their Winter Regional Conferences. 

It was a powerful week for many reasons.  Engaged students, committed teachers/staff/advisers, the beautiful Oregon landscape, focused application of content, etc.  The feedback from the advisers and students was overwhelmingly positive.  One of the reasons was because of my training/speaking style.  They loved that I employ a teaching technique that I encourage you to try on if you don't already.  Its called BBW - the Best of Both Worlds.

BBW is when you take your audience to both extremes of engagement - intellectual and emotional.  This means you stir up their emotions (laughter, sadness, excitement, etc.) in a big way and then lead, guide and direct their thoughts with application points. 

If you engage the emotional side only, you aren't teaching - you are a cartoon.  If you engage the intellectual side only, you aren't teaching - you are a thesis paper.
Following is an example outline of one way I employed the BBW technique last week in Oregon:

  1. I led them through an activity called Name That Tune.  As a team of 8-10, they have to guess what movie or TV show each theme song is associated with.  It is competitive, fast-paced and filled with fun songs.  My body language and verbal tones reflect excitement, engagement and humor.
  2. After the activity I ask them a simple question to discuss as a team, "Why were you able to remember these songs?"  The key lesson is repetition.
  3. Then I pull everyone close together near me (close proximity to you and each other creates attention and focus) and elaborate on this statement, "The most effective leaders repeat the right habits on a daily basis."  I give them a few specific, concrete, simple habits that will help them be a positive influence on their peers.  My body language and verbal tones reflect sincerity and importance of message.  Not preachy though.  The connection between the audience and me isn't parent-child, but coach-player.
Good luck rocking this skill. 

Only when you go to positive extremes with your techniques and words do you fully cut through the clutter and distractions in each audience member's life.

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