Regardless of the topic, demonstrations can drive home a point
that may be lost in a lecture or in a reading.
My decades of teaching, speaking, and facilitating have reinforced that people need to connect with the speaker and the material. I have found that demonstrations drive points home in ways that thirty minutes of talking will not. A hands-on exercise gets the audience involved—whether as participants or as observers. They engage more of their senses than listening to a lecture. An effective exercise encourages analysis, discussion, a bit of confusion, an ah-ah moment, and movement forward toward a goal
Here is a simple one I did with campus classes and national workshops. You only need one prop: A bed sheet. I used a bed sheet made for a single bed. Here is what I did:
- Spread the sheet on the floor. Place a small “B” on one side and a small letter “T” on the other side. Standing for “Bottom” and “Top” of sheet. To start the demonstration, the “T” side should be topside.
- Before I sought volunteers, I let them know they would be moving, twisting, and bending. So, if they had back, hip, feet, or knee issues, they may want to sit and observe. (NOTE: In all the times I did this, no one ever fell or got injured. Best to err on the side of caution and full disclosure, though. Participant beware.) I asked for six volunteers to come to the front of the room.
- One volunteer stood in each of the corners of the sheet. The remaining two people stood on the long side of the sheet between the corner people (one each side). They could be arranged in any position.
4. At times I asked for one more volunteer to come forward. I typically called on the workshop organizer when possible and placed this person in the middle of the sheet. There were now seven people strategically placed along the side of the sheet.
5. All feet HAD to remain totally on the sheet at all times. That is, they could not have one foot on the sheet and one foot totally or partially off the sheet.
6. Their task: Without stepping off the sheet, they must turn the sheet upside down so that the top is on the bottom and the bottom is on the top. The “B” and “T” makes this easy to monitor. And, they must rotate the sheet 180 degrees. So, if the “T” was on the top and pointing to the left side of the room, when they finish the “B” will be on the top and pointing to the right side of the room.
7. I usually had a few spotters to stand around the outside of the sheet in the event someone lost balance as they moved around the sheet.
8. I typically gave the participants two minutes to complete the flip and turn. And, more times than not, they did it in less time.
9. I asked the participants and the audience for insights. Here are just a few ah-ah moments:
- Someone emerges as a leader.
- More emerge as the followers.
- Collaboration is necessary.
- Coordination of movement helps collaboration and results.
- Listening is critical.
- Initial strategizing can save time.
- Move purposefully but not fearfully.
- Creativity can help.
- Laughter emerges and helps!
10. Once we exhausted observations and insights, the participants drew conclusions and related those to our topic at hand.
Video Recommendation for the week.
Regardless of the topic, demonstrations can drive home a point that may be lost in a lecture or in a reading.
While I do not have a video of me doing the sheet exercise above, watch this video (enjoyed with nearly 20,000 views) of a demonstration I did with my students to drive home the importance of prioritizing the non-negotiables items in their lives. The visuals provide a powerful lesson that cannot be easily missed or forgotten.
Make it a great week and HTRB has needed.
My latest book, Community as a Safe Place to Land (2019), (print and e-book) is available on Amazon. More information (including seven free podcast episodes that spotlight the seven core values highlighted in the book) at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
Check out my book Stories about Teaching, Learning, and Resilience: No Need to be an Island (2017). It has been adopted for teaching, learning, and coaching purposes. I will be conducting (September 2019) a half-day workshop for a community college’s new faculty onboarding program using the scenarios in this book. Contact me if you and your team are interested in doing the same. The accompanying videos would serve to stimulate community-building conversations at the beginning of a meeting.
My podcasts can be found at The Growth and Resilience Network®
You will find more about what I do at www.stevepiscitelli.com.
©2019. Steve Piscitelli
The Growth and Resilience Network®