My appearance on last week’s live Tummelvision show with Heather Gold and Kevin Marks is up. We talked about Google’s Buzz, which at the time was only a few days old and not yet “fixed,” and social interaction design applied to conversation tools like twitter. And we took a pre-recorded question from fellow tummler Deb Schultz .
I had a blast. Unfortunately, I only barely touched on social interaction design in general. But we applied it in principle to some examples of interaction on social media, Buzz included, and I think managed to keep it topical.
I want to thank Heather, Kevin, and Debs for having me on the show. And I wish to thank Heather, in particular, for her extraordinary contribution to social media “culture” at large, and more personally, for simply being a shining light of inspiration.
I had the chance to participate in Heather’s first Unpresenting workshop in December of 2009. It was a full-day affair with about a dozen excellent industry folks here in the city. The workshop was on the use of “tummeling” as a presentation and workshop technique designed to increase audience engagement.
Each of us had a turn at telling a story to the rest of the group, with Heather making remarkably insightful observations to each one of us for the half hour or more that we had to present and practice. I consider myself a pretty good read of people and what they’re going through, but Heather’s ability to manage insights for each of us pretty much blew me away. I came out of the day both exhilarated and exhausted, but boggled at how Heather managed to maintain attention to personal nuance and detail for all her participants.
More recently, I sat in on Heather’s second Unpresenting workshop here in town. This time I observed and took notes. I’m fascinated by Heather’s process and effectiveness, and utterly compelled by the experience. Heather’s process is flow, and she relies on each participant to provide the “teachable moments” through which to make observations on how better to (un)present. As a method it’s incredibly powerful when it works, and is an example in itself of the tummeling’s core practice — to transfer authority to the audience. Heather makes her points, but transfers her own leadership to participants.
It’s an extremely relational and deeply human experience, and was for me personally transformative. Nothing compares to the visceral and embodied learning that accompanies the “aha” moment of realization that something — mental, emotional, or physical — has stood in the way of enjoying the experience of getting your audience involved.
It’s a kind of insight that Heather has a rare talent and skill for observing, and for raising to the surface comfortably and safely. Her experience with this is uncanny and owes to a lifetime of work on-stage and off. That Heather can lift your insight out of darkness with real empathy, for you to experience and own, through which others learn and by means of which she makes her presenting points, and to do so in a way that feels natural, is a gift writ large.
So if you do a lot of presenting, if you are a firm or organization that relies on effective communication, and you suspect that sometimes the slides and presentations get in the way of meeting your goals and closing the loop, book Heather. I recommend the experience unequivocally. And I’m grateful for the opportunity to express this. Thanks Heather. You rock.