Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Presenter Pointers #4: Assist (not Assault)

Every Sunday (or Saturday), Sabhaologists are on the field monitoring, observng, and analyzing presentations. This series brings to light their observations and points of improvement in a bite-sized blog post.

In presenting passionately, it's easy to get carried away with feisty rhetoric, but we must remember that we're here to help our audience. They are the true heroes waiting to realize their potential, and as presenters, we need to edge them along the way. 

For example, kishore/kishori mandal had the topic of prachar in their sabhas this past weekend, and it can easily be misconstrued into the extreme - far from what Pramukh Swami Maharaj has shown in his life:

In 1982, Pramukh Swami Maharaj was in Leceister and noticed a Christian man present before him with a reserved countenance. Upon meeting with him, the man disclosed how he needed to find peace after his son committed suicide since people blamed him and his wife for it.  
Swamishri asked, "Were there any difficulties with the boy?"  
The man replied, "Yes, he was mentally handicapped." 
"Did you fully love him?"  
The man explained that the boy had been hospitalized for the severity of his condition. He tried to escape from the window but killed himself in the process. Swamishri then explained that since the parents loved the boy fully, they were not at fault. 
The man became so ecstatic upon hearing these words and offered a donation, but Swamishri told him that if he wanted to give money, then to donate at his church. The man felt surprised at meeting the first spiritual leader who did not so readily accept money. 
Next Sunday, the man spoke to the audience about his experience with Swamishri.
We see from this example that Swamishri showed prachar to reflect from his actions and not from preaching, manipulation, or even deception. 

Perhaps our audience may sport mandir t-shirts or cite BAPS on their resumes when they may shy away from talking to strangers at mandir, but if we can recognize their efforts and nudge them along, their superpowers will shine sure enough.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Clues to a Great Story

Andrew Stanton wrote the first film produced entirely on a computer, Toy Story. But what made that film a classic wasn't the history-making graphic technology -- it's the story, the heart, the characters that children around the world instantly accepted into their own lives. In the video below he shares some of his insights into the art and science of story telling. Many of these are applicable to crafting a sticky sabha presentation.

Note between 1:08 and 1:011 in the video some colorful language is used.

  • Story telling is joke telling
  • [Story telling] is knowing everything you are saying from beginning to the last is leading to a singular goal.
  • [Story telling] is confirming some truth that deepens our understanding of who we are as human beings.
  • "Frankly there isn't anyone you couldn't learn to love once you've heard their story."
  • Story commandment: Make me care. [this one really resonates with us, this is the goal of sabha]
  • Great stories start by making a promise that this talk or story will lead somewhere that is worth your time. [again this is the promise we need to make in sabha, and fulfill it]
  • The audience actually wants to work for their meal [they want to be engaged and made to think]. They just don't want to know that they are doing that. [again in any sabha, the audience wants to think, but they do not want to know before hand that they have to think - entertain me.]
  • Stories are inevitable if they are good, but they are not predictable.
  • Stories infuse wonder.
  • Drama is anticipation mingled with uncertainty.