July 10, 2006

The... OUCH... Hard... YIKES... Way...

I learned an important lesson today. Starting in the middle of a concept and talking about it to the end makes you sound really smart, if not so smart that the concept can zoom right over your audience's head. That can be a good thing... or a bad thing.

When starting from an assumed position, whether it be philosophy or knowledge, you are going to come across as thoughtful or knowledgeable to your audience. This mostly happens because they are starting from a position of less experience.

If you want to bowl someone over, start in the middle. Being overwhelmed by information and trying to fit pieces of it together to make sense of the last half of a story is tiring and confusing. Of course, this has its place. It is like walking into a primitive village with a lighter.... By the time you bite off the head of a snake and chug down the local beverage, everyone will be ready to listen when you shout, "Follow me!". Both religion and Ron Popeil have recruited millions this way.

If you want to convert someone into a way of thinking or into an idea, start at the beginning. Fully grasping an idea makes people feel smart, empowered. They caught on - how agile! Successful long-term relationships usually happen when people have been convinced, not trampled.

As different as they are, both methods work. It all revolves back to the basic premise of knowing your audience and being in control of your rhetoric. Practice what you preach, but practice preaching it, too.