Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Curse of Knowledge

Have you been presenting to folks and getting not so good reviews? Do the stories you tell your friends some time falls flat ? Read on to find out the cure for that malady...
Here is the secret of how I overcame the same problem. "Made to Stick" by Chip & Dan Heath is an excellent book on how to make ideas stick in peoples mind. One of the aspects they talk about is the Curse of Knowledge where a "Tapper" has to tap out the rhythm of very popular songs on a table so as to get a "Listener" to identify it. The crux of the matter is that the tapper playing the song in his mind, tapped the table with the full confidence that the listener would understand it and identify the song. Meanwhile the listener without that knowledge has no clue what the song is and is unable to identify them !!

That story stuck to me ! Let me explain why and how it helped me with my issues ...

One of the problems I face when I make presentation to teams, is that sometimes I get the "glazed eye" look- Sheer boredom or folks fervently praying that I would not ask them questions and embarrass them in front of their peers.  Very frustrating right? Here I am putting my heart and soul into the presentation and I get this? In my mind I was explaining some basic concepts which everybody should get. Finally one of my mentors pulled me aside and had "The talk". He asked me pause and understand the audience - Take time to look at my presentation from the audience's level of knowledge. Some of the folks were business users and did not understand the techno speak. Or other did not understand that particular techno speak! So they did not have the context and they did not have the foundation to build on. Not their fault and here I was making a leap of faith that they are at a certain level of knowledge. The song was playing clearly in my mind. But the tapping did not make any sense to the audience ! 

Being me, It of course took multiple attempts to overcome my ego and make me get it. But when I did get it, I found that I was being understood better and was able to get a better agreement from the audience. Suddenly I was in demand as a presenter as well as a facilitator !

Makes sense does it not? So stop playing to the music in the mind. 
Try it out and let me know if you experience the same empowerment as I did 

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