Which may seem like a funny question, and I suppose it’s not actually the question I really want answered. The real question is Why don’t we learn?
The Truth is Out There
The world has changed in the last decade, and changed a great deal. Previously if you wanted to know things you had to go and find them. The answers might be in books, or in people, and they were almost certainly out there, but many answers were really hard to get at.
Now, whatever Mr Gove says, the world of learning has changed immeasurably. There are very few questions you cant answer via Google. My life would be intolerable without Google because nearly every day one of the 4 computers I work at does something weird. Now I type “Kernel panic” into Google and immediately know why three hours work have vanished. Isn’t the modern world grand!
When I speak to people on the phone I Google them, their company, their old company and their Facebook friends while they’re still talking. And if you want to know about anything from Henry VIII to Henry Root Wikipedia will tell you (pretty accurately despite the myths) everything you need to know.
So, if all knowledge is out there, why is there so much useful stuff we don’t know? Why do we learn some things and not others?
At Grist our business is human communication. We help people sell themselves effectively thorough writing, speaking in public or debating over a table. For all those things there are some really clear principles that really work. If you Google Presentation Tips, or Principles of Presentation you will see dozens of relevant pages, and perhaps this is where the problem starts – because many of them are nonsense. I won’t go on about those that still say 93% of communication is non-verbal, but there are many that simply confuse.
We don’t have a simple page which sets out the principles for a great presentation because currently we think that is giving too much away.
We never have a bad presentation, and we do 2, 3, or 4 every week. Put it another way 100% of our presentations go really well. Really. Promise.
We also expect Q&A, or “interviews” to go really well at least 95% of the time. I can’t say 100% because some clients are out for blood, and while we can prepare you to remain positive whatever the grilling, you’d be hard put to say an interview like that had “gone well”. As well as could be expected is the best you can hope for.
But while our site wont tell you in 100 words how to prepare a perfect presentation every time, the truth is out there. I’ve read all the books and most of the sites and some of them are spot on. So why don’t we all have those basic ideas in our heads?
Perhaps there is just too much to know?
I spent 20 years making TV programmes.
TV is an editing business. You start with tons of stuff – facts, people, data, pictures, places and edit down to a plan which uses the best resources, the least amount, to tell your story. You then shoot tons of stuff, maybe 20 hours for a 30 minute show and you edit that down. You finally write commentary to explain what is going on in the fewest words possible. Over a lifetime David Attenborough is a master. Introducing a new sequence he will say “The Snowy Egret.” What else is necessary?
I took that 20 years and brought it to public speaking. It still took years for us to perfect our process so that what we have learned can work for our clients every time.
So perhaps there is just too much for the people we work with to know?
What else in business falls into this category? Any ideas?