4 Crucial Elements That Make Your Audience Talk Up Your Creative Work

“The public as a whole is composed of various groups, whose cry to us writers is: ‘Comfort me.’ ‘Amuse me.’ ‘Touch me.’ ‘Make me dream.’ ‘Make me laugh.’ ‘Make me shudder.’ ‘Make me weep.’ ‘Make me think.’” —Guy de Maupassant

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We work on a painting, presentation, novel, song, dance, play, or Bible lecture and hope our audiences will talk it up.

Our works will stay in the minds of our audiences if we recognize audiences need intangibles to imbed artistic works in their memories.

People will enjoy our works long after they’ve put down the books, turned off the iPods or left the galleries, conference rooms, or theaters if our works evoke:

  • Images
  • Emotions
  • Stories
  • Ah-Has

Why Evoke Images?

Kyle Buchanan and Dean Roller say in their e-book, How to Memorize Bible Verses, “Your memory doesn’t like rote learning and repetition, it likes to see things.”

id-100135344.jpgPeople want to visualize as they experience. Even paintings evoke images other than those on canvas. When I saw a painting of a field of sunflowers, the image of the sunflower patch I passed on my way home from work everyday in the summers came to mind.

Songs evoke images through lyrics and what went on in our lives when the songs were popular. Recently I attended My Book Therapy’s Deep Thinkers Retreat. Susan May Warren invited us to listen to parts of songs and note what images and emotions they aroused. The exercise showed the importance of creating images for our readers.

People like to recall the rich images creative works deposit in their memory banks.

Why Evoke Emotions?

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At the Deep Thinkers Retreat, we learned techniques to evoke readers’ emotional responses to our characters. To make our novels memorable, we had to draw our readers into the characters’ lives. Recalling our own past emotions in similar situations helped us show our characters’ emotional reactions.

During the retreat breaks and meals, the latest episode of Downton Abbey dominated conversations. A character had died. If I hadn’t known better, I’d have thought, by the angry and mournful emotions voiced, some beloved actor had passed. Viewers cared.

A presenter wants his audience to care about his call to action. In the book, Resonate, Nancy Durate advocates emotional appeal in presentations along with ethical and logical appeals. She says, “Involving the audience emotionally helps them form a relationship with you and your message.”

People look for reasons to care enough to talk up creative works.

Why Evoke Stories?

 mp900405206.jpgWhen I look at a painting or a photo in a gallery, I see a snapshot. I want to know what happened and what happens next. What’s the story behind the photo of the ballerina? Was she jilted earlier? Is she planning revenge? Was she cut from the ballet? Will she give up her dream and return to her husband and five children?

Song rhythms and lyrics arouse new and past stories. Novels do the same. When I read a novel, my mind scurries ahead to finish the story with what I know so far. I’m delighted when the novel surprises me with a gotcha or replaces my expectations with something far more interesting.

People discuss creative works whose interesting scraps or snapshots turn on their live-in storytellers to fill in the gaps.

Why Evoke Ah-has?

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Most people love to glean a new truth from a poignant play, a hilarious book, or a country song’s title. It’s like opening door number three and our hearts leap at the sight of the prize. Readers of mysteries delight in the sudden realization of who dunnit.

We enjoy a new insight to share at lunch. To guide our lives.

People talk up creative works that turn on their light bulbs.

What did you imagine when you first saw the picture of the ballerina?

 

A Great Way to Cultivate Creativity in Your Young Children

We want our children to grow up with healthy creative abilities. My guest today, Jill Bennett, shares an innovative solution for developing young children’s creative skills to meet their and societies’ future challenges.

Cultivating Creativity:

Engineering Encourages Children to Think Creatively and Take Risks 

Creativity is a step beyond imagination because it requires that you actually do something rather than lie around thinking about it.  It’s a very practical process of trying to make something original.

-Sir Ken Robinson

3280_kids with robotI have seen four-year-old children design rollercoasters as they discover principles of acceleration.  I have watched five-year-old children test various weights in the basket of a model hot air balloon as they explore buoyancy.  I know eight-year-old students who design, build, and program robots to free a simulated trapped dolphin from dangerous ocean conditions.  And there are nine-year-olds out there creating video games.  From scratch.

These children are solving problems in original ways. They see a challenge, develop ideas to solve the problem, and then they act.  Dori Roberts, founder and CEO of Virginia-based franchise Engineering for Kids, knows a great deal about designing an original idea.

Seeing a Challenge

Dori began her professional career as a high school technology and engineering teacher.  During those years, she helped her students consider innovative ways to solve engineering-related challenges.  She watched her students take risks. She began an engineering club at her school and traveled throughout the region, state, and nation with them.  Her son, who was six at the time, became very interested in the older students’ projects.  Upon searching for an after-school, engineering-related class for him, she realized there was nothing available for his age group.

Solving the Problem

EFK LogoMany parents would have thrown their arms up in frustration and would have begrudgingly registered their child for an alternate after-school activity.  Dori, however, recognized a need in the community and acted.  She began offering after-school classes at her son’s school, followed by summer camps at the local community center.  It did not take long for these classes to fill.  Word spread that the kids loved designing their own rockets, bridges, flashlights, and more.  The idea was a success.  Such a success, in fact, that she drafted a business plan, opened the Engineering for Kids Learning Center in Stafford, Virginia, and made it her full-time job.

Acting and Creating a Vision

I joined the Engineering for Kids team about two years ago and have been overseeing the development of curriculum and programs.   The team continues to grow, as does the business.  Engineering for Kids became a franchise just over a year ago and we now have 25 locations, two of which are international.  Our goal is to have 60 franchises by the end of 2013.  Our vision is to “inspire the next generation of engineers.”

Noting Reasons for Success

So many factors have contributed to the success of Engineering for Kids.  On any given day, it is tough to scan through newspaper headlines without seeing topics such as science education, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math), or the need for qualified engineers.  Parents are always looking for educational opportunities for their children, and it’s a huge bonus when their kids are excited to sign up for an educational activity outside of school hours.  These students are being challenged during these engineering classes without even knowing it!  In addition, Engineering for Kids is growing because we have a host of franchisees that have been willing to take a risk.

3278_happy girlsDuring any given lesson, we ask our students to use their creativity to solve challenges and take risks.  It is very possible that students will develop completely different solutions to the same challenge.  And that is okay.  In fact, we encourage it.  We recognize that creativity requires taking a risk by putting yourself and your ideas out there.  It takes guts to present an original idea to your peers.

Not all of our students will become engineers.  We realize that.  However, the lil’ mechanical engineer I mentioned earlier is already learning what it means to consider challenging concepts like designing a rollercoaster, think creatively to solve problems, and take risks in designing solutions.  We are confident that exposing kids to engineering will give them a strong foundation in thinking creatively and taking risks.  And maybe, just maybe, one of our students will design the next generation’s fastest, most thrilling rollercoaster experience the world has ever known.

Related Links:

www.engineeringforkids.net

http://www.marieclaire.com/blog/engineering-for-kids-franchise

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dori-roberts/creating-tinkering-inventing_b_2545936.html

http://news.fredericksburg.com/business/2012/10/12/engineering-for-kids-going-international/

bethany photos-173 copyJill Bennett, Director of Program Development at Engineering for Kids, joined the team in 2011.  She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in American Studies and Elementary Education from the University of Richmond in 2001.  She taught first and third grade in Henrico County, Virginia. During the 2005-2006 school year she was selected by colleagues as her school’s distinguished “Teacher of the Year”, which is awarded annually to one outstanding teacher.  In 2008, Jill earned a Master of Education in Instruction from the University of Virginia.  Currently, she balances her work at Engineering for Kids with lots and lots of playtime with her sons, who are four and two.

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How to Evaluate Your Creative Idea Before Presenting It to the Sharks

“A new idea is delicate. It can be killed by a sneer or a yawn.” —Charles Brower

Great White Shark

At work, at home, or while volunteering, we are faced with presenting our creative solutions to sharks: spouse, boss, leader, children, city council, whomever. Many times our solutions are rejected, because, well, they’re bad ideas.

We can avoid championing bad ideas by putting our solutions through a checklist before selling them to the sharks. Answers to the following questions will determine whether your creative solution has merit.

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Creative Solution Checklist

 

Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Pong at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Nature of the Solution – the description of the idea.

  • Is the idea simple?
  • Can you summarize the idea in a few clear and concise sentences?
  • Will the idea solve the problem completely or partially?
  • Is the idea a permanent or temporary solution?
  • Is the solution affordable?

Reception of the Solution – the way others will react to the idea.

  • Could average people on the street accept it?
  • Has a co-worker said he wishes he’d thought of the idea?
  • Will the people involved be able to accept the changes the solution requires?
  • Would God be pleased?

Results of the Solution – the noble value of the idea.

  • Will the solution increase production or efficiency?
  • Will the solution improve quality of life or quality of a product?
  • Will the solution improve safety, working conditions, or work methods?
  • Will the solution prevent waste, eliminate unnecessary work, conserve materials or reduce costs?

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Example:

In building our dream home, I decided to incorporate arched interior transoms over two doors like I saw in a magazine. The transoms had glass and arched patterned wrought iron insets. The builder asked several times if I really wanted them. My husband, John, didn’t care if they were installed or not.

Problem: If I wanted the arched transoms, it was up to me to obtain the wrought iron insets and the half-circle glass windows.

mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
mage courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Solution 1: I found online one pre-made wrought iron inset with an unappealing design. Then I discovered a company that would have to custom create the design, and the insets would cost $500 each, plus shipping. And this didn’t include the glass or our builder’s labor to form the arched frames. Total: $1,000+.

If I’d used the checklist to evaluate this solution before taking it to the sharks (husband and builder), it would have failed. It had become complicated. The cost didn’t fit into the budget. I believed the average man on the street would think the transoms were exorbitant for a bit of style. The expensive transoms had no noble use, other than they charmed me. Bad idea.

I was ready to give up the transoms.

Solution 2: John and I perused an outlet store with all kinds of home decorative items. On one aisle, we discovered patterned wrought iron half-circles the exact size we needed for $30 each. The only problem was the fleurs de lis soldered to their centers.

TransomsExcited, I summarized my solution in two sentences to shark John: “Buy these insets and remove the fleurs de lis. Purchase a round glass tabletop with the same diameter, which I saw for $60, and have it cut in half for the window sections. Total: $120.

This solution was simple. The cost was reasonable. The noble use, at that cost, was improving the artistic design of the house. John went for it.

John removed the fleurs de lis. The builder had the glass tabletop I bought cut in half for $5. John and I like how the transoms turned out.

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What method do you use before you present a creative idea to your sharks?

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