I am sure that I am not the only one that finds it very difficult to get back into work mode after a holiday. However loins have been girded and work is underway; and the blog is back.

But forgive me if I indulge in a little holiday reminiscing. The problem with being a communication trainer is that you can never stop assessing, analysing and formulating ways for improvement – and I have been enjoying the historic sites and the history of Tasmania, with ‘guides’! Now, most of them were wonderful and in particular I recall a fantastic guide who led us through the history of Sarah Island in Macquarie Harbour.

She made us ‘see’ the people involved and the way in which they interacted, in short, she brought the whole story alive for us. And she did it by sharing her obvious passion for the subject, and by conducting the tour in a highly interactive way. She nominated members of the party to represent the people while she was telling the story – and because we had the ‘person’ right there with us we could really identify with the action. Especially Bill, who apparently ran naked in front of the Doctor’s wife in a bid to get rid of the rarely sober doctor. It was the first Australian streaker and it worked. Did I mention she used humour?

There were many others who shared their passion with us, like Graham the guide on the Wilderness Railway. His family had been involved in building this incredible rack and pinion railroad and his obvious personal identification with its history also drew us into the story.

Bu unfortunately there were others who had obviously been doing it for some time, and their presentations were dead, unemotional and quite frankly boring. They knew the facts and figures but their delivery was wooden and monotonous. What an opportunity was lost as we wandered around Port Arthur. No person came to life because it was all about numbers – how many prisoners versus how many military personnel. But not one of them became real for me. Just who was the Government Cottage build for? Who looked after it when there were no visitors? Who were the women and children who strolled through the government gardens in sight of the penitentiary? Give me the history of just one of the men who lived in that great building, now an imposing ruin.

It all started with great anticipation, as each one of us were given a card which represented one of the convicts who had served time in Port Arthur and we had the opportunity to wander through a museum finding out what they had done and how they had turned out. I was somewhat surprised to find that I was a bigamist who’d tattooed the name and date of my first marriage on my arm. A somewhat giveaway I would have thought. However when I reached the actual ruins themselves I could not locate any place on the ground where ‘my’ convict had lived or worked.

I have always taught that we need to connect with our audience on two levels, intellectually and emotionally. Facts and figures convince of the credibility of the information; but it will always be the personal emotional appeal which connects with the audience. Those guides in Tasmania who had an emotional connection with their subject were far more successful in getting me to participate and identify with them, than were those who merely recited the facts and figures and left us to get on with it.

It was a lesson learned again for me; If we are to sell our message to our audience then we must connect emotionally with them.

Michele; now back @ Trischel

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