As a speaker, my favorite size audience is 300 people. Getting them to interact with me and one another during an event is an exciting challenge. Many times when interaction takes place the objective of the activity becomes memorable. I have one letter from a participant who wrote, “I can’t believe you got me to do the things you got me to do, but it works!” The Lord has given me this ability, but it took me a long time to discover it.
“Show and tell” in elementary school was not for me. I watched and listened to the other kids stand in front of the class with their things they brought to tell us about. Finally, I did bring something to show and tell. Without asking my parents, I brought my new step-sister to school with me. She stood with her back to the black board with me while we waited for my turn to speak. I don’t remember the reaction of the students to my presentation, but I do remember the reaction of my parents. After the paddling, they made it clear that taking my new sister to school without asking was bad. That interaction was painfully memorable.
So when our sixth grade teacher gave us an assignment to bring in our hobbies to “show and tell” about it, my reaction was one of dread. Besides having to speak in front of the class again, I didn’t collect leaves, rocks and bugs, nor did I build plastic air planes. I had nothing or so I thought!
As I was peeling potatoes for dinner and praying about not having a hobby, I remembered what I liked to do. Maybe this was a hobby that the teacher forgot to mention. So after dinner, I baked a white cake with butter cream icing and sprinkles. I loved baking.
Even though the cake looked nice; it even smelled good, I put it in a tattered cardboard box before Mom and Dad got home from work. I didn’t want them to eat my hobby. It was hard enough to keep it from my two brothers and sister. Their demand was oat meal cookies which was easy to fix.
No one paid much attention to me and my box the next morning. It sat on the floor next to my desk as we waited for our turn to be called up front. My last name was Watson which meant the cake and I were nearly last to go before my bored peers.
Walking up the aisle when my turn came, I saw that some of the kids had their heads on their desks or drawing pictures. That was a good feeling that no one was looking at me, not even the teacher. She was writing in her book. When I put the crumpled brown box on the corner of her desk, she looked up, but not for long.
I don’t remember much about what I said that day. What I do remember was the reaction of the students and the teacher when I folded back the flaps on the box. There was silence while I reached into the keeper of the most unusual hobby. When the white cake came over the top of the box, there was a unified sigh of awe! Shuffling in seats began when I brought out the knife to cut the cake. Everyone knew they were going to be able to taste the answer to my prayer for God to show me what hobby I had to bring to class.
This was my first experience with positive and productive interaction with an audience. God has continued to answer my prayers when I ask Him to show me what will connect me with people in an activity that will be meaningful, helpful and memorable for any size group.
Have you experienced an interactive activity that connected you with a speaker or an audience member? Or is there a meaningful application skill that you learned during an event activity? If so, would you share in the comment box?
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be open to you. ~ Matthew 7:7