“If you really want to communicate something, even if it’s just an emotion or an attitude, let alone an idea, the least effective and least enjoyable way is directly. It only goes in about half an inch. But if you can get people to the point where they have to think a moment what it is you’re getting at, and then discover it … the thrill of discovery goes right through the heart.” -Stanley Kubrick*
This has me puzzling and reflecting on moments of insight in my own life. Do we want knowledge handed to us? Yes, actually. But does it take that way? How well does it stick?
Figuring something out for yourself has got to be stickier than just being handed an idea. A well structured story or movie can you have trying to guess the twist and then surprise you with an insight or a plot turn you hadn’t considered. We all love an “aha” moment, that “thrill of discovery” that changes a perspective or opinion, that could change your life.
This probably is an obvious communication strategy to great teachers and novelists and filmmakers. But the rest of us should consider how we can prompt discovery in our communication efforts.
I’m imagining now how I can be more intentional about building discovery into my presentations and even into conversations with my kids. Have your audience do their own thinking. Make them earn the transformation. This requires more thought, more planning. Instead of the old speech prescription – “Tell them what you’re going to tell. Tell them. Tell them what you told them.” – appreciate the audience’s intelligence and help lead them on a journey where they have to arrive at an insight on their own. Give them a chance for an “aha” moment that just might change everything.
*Kubrick’s wisdom keeps popping up in things I’m reading. Clearly, I need to catch up on his films.