How do you engage your audience?

I’d like to share with you my takeaways on last Justin’s and Riaz’s class about storytelling and specifically on the question of how do you engage your audience.
This is a really interesting question to me because coming from Europe, I am discovering the work context american codes, values and jokes and how designers here are conveying their ideas.
After a storytelling’s sessions on Saturday, Kat, Scott and Alex were elected the experts at “visual thinking” and for me, above all, the experts at engaging their audience.
So, how and why did these 3 guys engage us ?

1) ENERGY!!!!
Kat acts her stories. She put so much energy in them that we could pay attention to anything… I mean, the subject matters but what drives my attention at the beginning is her incredible animation. It is like a show. You, as the spectator, feel comfortable and distracted, because you are in somebody’s hands who is running the show for you.
Kat is often a little nervous before her presentations but when she starts, she is IN. It is like the stress before entering on stage. I think that acting a theater play and conveying a design idea share similarities like the power of words, images and body language.
Your energy will engage your audience.
2) sincerity and unity
Scott told us a very personal story: how he got engaged with his future wife Jessica. This is unique, personal and belongs to his “private sphere” (when I say private sphere, I mean people who are his “friends” on Facebook, Twitter probably don’t know this story).
As soon as Scott started his story, the group had a physical reaction: coming closer to him, smiling, listening. People were involved.
People connect with concrete and unique stories. “This happens to me and that’s why I care”. And then, once you engaged the audience with a personal story, you can blow it up to other people, as Justin was saying.
I think people also appreciate the courage of sharing personal stories because this is not easy to do.
Your sincerity and your personal example will engage your audience.
3) humor and metaphors
Alex used humor and visual metaphors to tell an absurdly funny story in which burritos could be sent by Internet because Internet is a network of tubes and the shape of the burrito perfectly fits the shape for the tubes, which is a great news because his friend in San Francisco can continue to sell him burritos and make money and Alex can continue enjoying his favorite burritos…
Humor has a huge power to engage your audience. And when you can combine it with visualizations, that’s great.
Alex’s story was very simple and clear. You don’t need too many points to tell a good story, you need only one but strong.
Humor, irony, metaphors and jokes will engage your audience.
I think you also can engage an audience just being serious and informative. The most important is to know what you are good and to be yourself, not to force yourself to be clown or an actor.
The big take away from Saturday for me is that people need to connect with you, as a person and have a sense of who you are, before being ready to listen to your story/concept/idea.

Understanding Twitter…

Hi all, I am starting on Twitter; it turns out that after Justin’s class on Saturday and Ruby’s post, I finally got really curious about it. Yes, I resisted against it for a while, I didn’t like the idea of sharing lunch scoops. But, there are obviously other ways to use it.

Most of you are already familiar with Twitter. So, I am playing the role of the “apprentice” by wraping up what I learnt and please feel free, as experts, to correct me and contribute (thanks Lauren for the metaphor, I like it).

Here are the basic ideas and steps that I understood by looking at tutorials and articles on the web.

So, once you get an account :

1. Fill in your profile so people can find you more easily:

  • add a photo
  • put your real name in your settings so you can refer people to your url:

2. Decide what you want to say as long as your messages are no more than 140 characters. You can write:

  • questions
  • opinions
  • tasks

Alternate messages where you write content (tweets) and messages where you forward content (retweets). Be generous, write information, don’t only forward it.

3. Build your network by choosing et finding the right people.

You can look for :

  • individuals
  • groups
  • organizations

People that you follow will start following you.

4. Tweet. Real-time et frequency are important because Twitter is all about:

  • sharing information in real-time
  • building anticipation
  • making you a reference in a topic
  • dragging traffic

The more you are feeding the system, the more you will take advantage of it.

5. Search. Twitter gives you the opportunity to search in your network and to give you appropriate search results

  • type a topic in the big Search box on your right
  • browse in trending topics

Twitter is all about language and links so there are basic rules:

5. If you tweet is intending to one one user in particular, type the @symbol followed by the username, for example: “@rubyku, what do you think of..?”

Or you can just hit “reply” to a tweet and your message will start with “@rubyku”

6. Use and make #tags

A #tag is a way for people to search for tweets that have a common topic. For example, if you search on #LOST (or #lost or #Lost, because it’s not case-sensitive), you’ll get a list of tweets related to the TV show. What you won’t get are tweets that say “I lost my wallet yesterday” because “lost” isn’t preceded by the hash tag.

Before you create your own tag, search for a few variations to make sure they don’t already exist. Since the tag will use up some of your 140-character limit, you want to keep it fairly short, while still making it precise.

What is the best tag for Social Entrepreuneurship ? “SocEntr” ? I think Ryan had some ideas about that.

A preference

I am really excited to discover, after Saturday, the diversity of People, the Quality of Projects and the great Formulation of Design Ideas & Commitment from the Faculty.

Here are my very first thoughts on the Johnson’s Backyard Garden Project in which I have a BIG preference. I am interested in working on nutrition plans and health care problems. Obesity is growing more common in Europe and touches especially poor communities and young people. There is a lot to do.

For example, Jamie Oliver, an English Chef, won a TED Prize wish last year for his work : ” Teach every child about food”.

” I profoundly believe that the power of Food has a primal place in our homes that binds us to the best bits of life… We have an awful reality right not. Fat is the biggest killer in the US today, this is a global problem.”

The JBG project seems to me very complete and very close to AC4D’s goals.

  • explore who are the existing and the future CSA members (a rich Research Project);
  • solve organizational and logistical problems;
  • understand and design solutions that help to promote JBG’s far-reaching goal: build a business model that can grow to reach self-sufficiency and self-profit but also that can train others farmers to grow … Some kind of a networked business. Check out this article on Edible Austin Magazine.