Lessons All Around You

“You’ve got to view those folks that have the power to engage and just take notes on what they do.”

–Christopher Emdin TED Talk, “Teach Teachers How to Create Magic”

Every once in a while, time spent goofing around on Facebook pays off–as when we came across this TED talk by Christopher Emdin.

Christopher Emdin (source: HipHopEd)

Dr. Christopher Emdin

A Columbia University professor of education, Emdin wants teachers to bring more passion–and entertainment value–to their classrooms. The points he makes about how teachers can engage students are the same ones we make about what it takes for speakers to engage audiences:

Good content is not enough.  We say this all the time. There are two parts to a good presentation–what you say and how you say it. Without a doubt, the content needs to be there. But if you don’t deliver that material with some enthusiasm, you won’t engage the audience.

Put yourself in the audiences’ seats and consider how you can connect with them.  In Emdin’s talk, he says if you want to engage students in urban schools, familiarize yourself with the things they care about. Likewise, if you want to engage audiences with your speeches, make it clear for them why they should care about what you have to say. Too often, speakers talk about material from their own points of view. They love to tell us why they care–but don’t give enough thought to why the audience should give a hoot about what they’re presenting.

There are great lessons everywhere if you’ll pay attention.  Emdin urges teachers to watch how preachers engage congregations, how men tell stories in barbershops, how rappers use gestures and work the stage. We like to tell our students they’ll never have to see a boring presentation again–once they start viewing every speech and presentation as a chance to learn.

In that spirit, maybe you’d like to take a look at Emdin’s passion-filled talk (above) and see what you can learn. He’s also the force behind HipHopEd and Science Genius B.A.T.T.L.E.S.