On a recent visit to the Florence Art Gallery to see some of the great works of art from the Renaissance I got to see two famous painting by Botticelli. The birth of Venus and springtime. Whilst I am the first to admit that I am not a great art critic, even I had to admit that these paintings were magnificent. I duly stood, admired, pondered and was about to move on. Until my attention was caught by a voice behind me explaining the painting. A woman was asking her companion some questions about what he could notice in the picture and then was guiding his gaze to various parts of the composition. I was hooked. Trying subtly to look as if I was deep in thought, I leaned back as far as was politely and physically possible without falling over, to listen to the unofficial commentary. And suddenly I saw the painting differently. I noticed things I hadn’t seen before. I understood the significance of others. I appreciated the placement of objects, colours and symbols. I ‘got’ the story Botticelli was telling. And yes, I turned into a bit of a stalker. At least in the part of the gallery.
Presentations that are delivered as information downloads without explanation, interpretation or guidance are like looking at a painting without the help of a friendly interpreter. Ok, but not usually memorable and certainly not inspiring. Here are some of the things we can do for our listeners:
1 point things out that people may not have noticed before
2 ask questions to get people to think
3 challenge what people think and feel now
4 add in your interpretation and take on things
5 help your listeners ‘get’ the whole picture
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