Creativity Is Key

I really loved the video that I watched for this assignment. I loved it so much that immediately after I went on Amazon and purchased the speaker’s book that he mentioned in the video.  I spent twenty minutes listening to Sir Kenneth Robinson of England speak about the connection (or lack thereof) between creativity and education system throughout the world.  His point was the way we currently teach and the subjects that we emphasize kill creativity. In his view,  we would rather slap a fidgety child with a label of ADD, give them pills, and tell them to pay attention than realize that some children may need to focus on other  nontraditional subjects.  Anyone that has an interest or an investment in education should take the time to hear his appeal.  

I loved the speech itself and the points that Robinson made, but I also enjoyed the way in which he presented them. He did not have a PowerPoint or any other presentation tools. Instead he simply stood in front of the audience and spoke. But the way he did it was so craftily done that  it felt as if you were just having a conversation with him. He used a lot of humor and personal stories which made the topic seem very real and relatable. I was impressed with his ability to hold the audience’s (and my own) attention. I listened very intently to the things he had to say and it left an impression on me.  Clearly, as I stated before I purchased his book directly after seeing the video. What is even more impressive is that the speaker has a condition that inhibits his ability to fluidly walk. Usually for me, when I watch a speaker I am able to pay better attention when the speaker is actively involved and moves around during their speech. But this didn’t matter with Robinson because he was such a gifted speaker. Instead of his legs, he used his hands and facial expressions to be actively involved in his speech.

Our group could definitely adapt traits from Robinson’s speech into our presentation.  In an indirect way his message applies to our project, but I think we would benefit more from practicing his public speaking skills. Using humor always helps to lighten the mood and make the situation feel more comfortable; this is something that we could try to do. We could also remember that one doesn’t have to be overly active when speaking. Using gestures and facial expressions could really add to our presentation without looking like we’re trying too hard. Also, the most important aspect is that we do not have to hide behind the presentation tools. Robinson simply spoke and did a great job, so we don’t always have to rely on the Prezi to get our point across. Keeping these points in mind, I think we can create a really awesome presentation in hopes that it won’t be god-awful and boring for the audience.

Check it out: http://www.ted.com/talks/ken_robinson_says_schools_kill_creativity.html

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Pixar Perfect Storytelling

I read the Presentation Zen entry about Pixar Studios filmmaker Andrew Stanton’s TED talk. The entry is titled The storytelling imperative: Make them care! The entry includes the link to Stanton’s actual TED presentation and without a doubt it’s worth the twenty minutes of your time. The filmmaker is a gifted public speaker and an even more talented storyteller. (After all, he does work for Pixar). The audience watches him like a hungry puppy watches a little kid eating cake. What is great about Stanton’s speech, and the TED talks in general, is that the filmmaker offers advice and invites us into the world of his storytelling success.

Stanton discusses his eight key points for storytelling success. The point he stresses the most is “making the audience care”. He challenges you with the question why the audience should be invested in your story. Stanton credits this as being the most important aspect of recounting.  The filmmaker says that there is no really good way to do this but the most important thing is to always craft your story with your audience in mind through their likes and emotions. The remaining key points that the speaker makes are to make a promise from the beginning that the story will be worth their time, don’t be overly obviously with your point by leaving some room for interpretation, there should always be change and a building of antici…pation, the theme should be clear and “infused with wonder”, and lastly you should include yourself and personal experiences in the story. Folks, if you remember and introduce these eight key points you too can be the life of the party by making your stories the best stories. Your story about that time your 80 year old grandma tired Just Dance will always be a hoot.

Stanton’s eight points for successful storytelling is definitely a useful tool for our group’s project.  Our project is an e-book written as an oral history. The whole entire point of our project is to tell stories and have the audience care about what we have to say. His points tie in very well with the depth of our project but perhaps more importantly with the presentation of our book. We decided to mimic a book signing for our concept and this will likely include a reading.  All of Stanton’s points will be very useful for the reading, especially the one about being “infused with wonder” cause that’s what I want our book and presentation to be. I also think that the Pixar pro’s points can also be adapted to public speaking in general.  Every public speaker wants their audience to pay attention and actively listen to them. We could ensure that by catering our presentation to our audience and to our readers. Our group could use these points throughout our entire presentation and “book-signing” and then hopefully it won’t suck.

“If At First You Don’t Succeed, Try, Try, Again!”

As usual, Shirky makes important points in his book Here Comes Everybody and chapter ten is no exception. The chapter is basically about how failure can be a good thing. How can failure be a good thing? Why, because it teaches you lessons of course! Or according to Clay, it makes the risk of failure the next time smaller; especially when you’re dealing with a large amount of people (Clay’s favorite thing to talk about). Personally, I found the “lowering the cost of failure” section the most boring and difficult to read. This is not to be taken personally; it was because I found it to be super technical and I am probably the least techie person in the history of ever. I know two technical terms and they are Microsoft and Apple. 

I deduced that the section was mainly about Lexis – not Lexis that’s a car – it’s about Linux which is apparently some software thing that’s super important but I had never heard of. But Linux is cool because it was essentially created by a bunch of people coming together to create something awesome. Dare I say, like our own group projects? I believe the point that Shirky was trying to make was that because so many different people were working on the program, it made the idea of failure seem less threatening because if the program failed the blame would be on a large group of people versus on one individual. I agree with this and I think you can clearly see the example in things like Wikipedia. Plus from personal experience, I know it often feels safer taking a risk when someone else is taking the risk along with you. For example, if you decide to participate in a limbo contest in front of a bunch of strangers, you feel better when your best friend agrees to participate too. I think this can definitely be applied to our group projects. We’re all working on the project together and at the end all four of our names will be on it and that makes it all feel a little less stressful because if it’s absolutely wretched all the blame can’t be placed on one person. Thus, my friends, it makes failure cheaper and something that us broke college students can afford.

My favorite part of the section was the part about community and how the author and the engineers from AT&T argued over technical support. That part I understood well and it made me smile. It’s nice to think that there are people in the world willing to give their time and knowledge (for free!) for the benefit of others that are equally passionate about something.  Again, I think we can spin this right back ‘round to our group project. All four of us are dedicating our time and energy into creating something unique in an area that we are all interested in. I think it is important for us to keep this thought in sight and to remember that giving peoples travel stories the chance to be heard and creating research through them is something awesome and could potentially put a smile on someone’s face just like the AT&T story did for me. We should also remember that TK Zine was created in only 48 hours…

Just Be Human and Collaborate Nicely

Evan Rosen brings up many great points about group collaboration in his article Creating Collaboration Takes More than Technology. I think the most interesting point that he makes relates to culture. Not culture in the sense of your heritage and where you come from, but rather the atmosphere that you create. Group dynamic and organizational culture are both extremely important for collaboration. To moi his point makes perfect sense because if someone doesn’t feel comfortable within an organization or a group they typically do not give their fullest and the whole entity suffers. It’s also not reaching its fullest potential, which creates a negativity which can be hard to shake.

Rosen states that formality is a large hindrance to collaboration because people feel that they need to stay within the lines and can’t voice their opinions. The author says that this formality can be reduced simply by the leadership habitually interacting with the workers. Which makes perfect sense because if I would see my boss or my boss’s boss on a regular basis around the office, I would feel much more comfortable voicing my ideas or concerns and would likely feel more motivated to perform.  The concept of culture is very important in our own group project for the same reasons. While there is not a designated “leader” of our group it is super important that everyone feels comfortable voicing their ideas and opinions and feels that they are valued. Having a solid group dynamic is the only why that we will be able to successfully collaborate and create a stellar project.  The idea of presence and interaction is also crucial. We all should feel like we’re equally contributing to the project and we should be interacting with one another on a regular basis. As Rosen states interaction lessens formality and low formality creates a comfortable group culture. I can personally attest to this, our group has had many good discussions about topics outside of our project. It was really nice to get to know the other members.  I feel comfortable in the group and would not hesitate to express my opinion whilst collaborating.

Rosen says that “value creation” is the main goal of collaborating and is what makes collaborating so appealing. Based on our group experiences thus far, I couldn’t agree more. When more than one mind comes together you inherit a glut of new ideas and ways of thinking. It’s fabulous because you’re able to create something marvelously unique and see things in ways you wouldn’t have before. That is how the idea of our project came about; we started out with the very broad idea of travel. Through collaboration and establishing a good group dynamic our idea morphed into something splendid that we were actually excited about working on. Win – collaboration at its finest!

Overall, I like the whole point of Rosen’s article that working well one another is so much more than having technology. It’s much more simple and basic; it’s a human thing. He brings the focus back to people in the simplest form by creating a positive environment and thence a positive group culture. Through my experience with my current group and others previously, I can definitely say that’s all it takes. Be less formal, talk to one another, have fun, and collaborate.