Sunday, January 15, 2017

How NOT to ruin your SUS

A fellow sabha-ologist and Bal Presenter - Jarvikbhai sent us the following observation.

How many of us have started our presentations with a question? I certainly have and this blog post is an instant example. Questions are a tempting tool to make things interactive. A quick and easy unexpected - maybe a way to gather consensus on a specific topic we want to talk about.  I recently utilized asking a question to start my Bal Mandal presentation trying to make things interactive. While it may work for a blog post (since the question is rhetorical) I found it isn’t as effective when doing a presentation, especially for Bal Mandal. I lost all command presence after asking the question since the sabha devolved quickly into a free for all. I did not want to crush enthusiasm or shout at the kids to pay attention (because they were paying attention they just were not behaving). So I weathered the storm, but it took a great deal of momentum out of my talk. As a presenter, we want our audience to pay attention from the beginning.

Following our Simple-Unexpected-Stories paradigm, we usually start our presentations with an unexpected to grab attention. It does not have to be a video and in fact if we start every talk that way it would not be very unexpected. I spoke to the sanchalaks and they confirmed that the kids had not seen a video in a few weeks. My simple take home message was “We should follow Yogi Bapa's example and fill our free time with devotion.” So I found the following video to grab attention.

The video is fast paced and just under about a minute long - perfect to entice the audience (balaks for my case) and prove the point that we spend a considerable amount of time doing unnecessary things which wouldn’t help us in the long run. Thus, we should use that free time to do different bhakti/seva for Bhagwan. I felt really good about starting in this manner and then integrating this idea to all the prasangs of Yogi Bapa.

However I started with a question asking the Balaks what they do during their summer time. I was expecting answers that weren’t  bhakti/seva related so that I can have balaks realize the amount of time we spend doing unnecessary things by showing the video next. In theory the plan would work but reality disagreed. As soon as I asked the question, all the balaks started yelling different things which is opposite of what I expected. I lost all command presence. I did not want to yell to get them to quiet down. I wanted to feed their enthusiasm.  If I had started with the video, it would have grabbed their attention much sooner and would actually care to listen to the following things I had to say.

So are there no real ways of using questions in your presentations, absolutely not! Virenbhai’s blog post is great example of how to incorporate a question at the beginning of a talk. Afterwards I thought of the following ideas that I may try in the future. Bring a ball or a throwable object. We could set conditions that whoever has a throwable object can speak. We could ask the same balak who has that object to pass it to another balak for them to speak. That way the commotion is reduced drastically.  

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