here’s a sequence of thoughts:
Imagine your gathering is just over.
Wether a training, workshop, lecture or a class.
What did people just tell their peers about what happened?
How do they feel an hour after the experience, a day or a month later?
Do they feel empowered, are they proud, did they act?
Or is it a story of complaint, boredom and wasted time?
Wait, did they maybe forget about it?
Did they even tell anyone?
The story that they tell is the impact of what we do.
It’s a story of importance or indifference.
Creating meaningful moments
Impact is created when people experience not average but defining moments. In their research, Chip & Dan Heath have found that defining moments are created from one or more of the following four elements:
Elevation: If things look better, taste better, sound better or feel better than they usually do, this boosts our sensory appeal. Add an element of productive pressure like a competition, game, performance, deadline, public commitment then elevation gets even higher. The tip of the elevation iceberg is a break of habit, a surprise element or an activity that pushes us outside our comfort zone.
Insight: Have people trip over the truth by discovering insights themselves. This makes it more likely that they will act on it. If we place ourselves in situations of practice that expose us to failure, we have the highest probability for insight.
Pride: The smallest interactions can lead to a moment of pride. People will remember pride through peer feedback or mentor feedback. It’s all about the message and a moment of recognition: I saw what you did and I appreciate it.
Connection: If a group gets to take on a demanding task that is deeply meaningful to them, the group will bond. Another element is showing oneself vulnerable in a safe environment. If individuals open up and deepen ties it creates moments that matter to them.
There’s a simple test the authors suggest to do to check the importance to your participants: Do people feel like they want to take pictures? Do they reach out afterwards?
A story worth remembering
A good story is unpredictable, has relatable characters and varies in its rhythm. It dances between suspense and relief to keep us on our toes.
We can mirror these principles to our gatherings. Whenever we bring people together we take them on a small journey and we can be the authors of the story. We can design our gatherings for elevation, insight, pride and connection.
When we’re done we can come to a proper end, not an accidental stop, a proper end. We help them leave our journey, carefully and with intent.
These extraordinary minutes, hours and days — they are what make experiences meaningful. They turn experiences to stories.
And the stories are ours to create.