Signposts and Surprises

One of the principles of adult education is that adult learners like to know what’s going to be happening next.

As facilitators and teachers we’ll usually do this by signposting in some way: an agenda at the beginning of the day, or a nod to the hands-on activity we’ll be getting to after the lecture part.

But here’s the tension: we want to make sure there are magic moments. These are where the big breakthroughs happen. And they usually need to be a surprise in some way. They can’t be openly signposted.

This applies outside the classroom too.

Whether we’re pitching for investment or telling a joke – we need both of these elements. It’s hard for one to happen without the other. 

We want to signpost to the audience where we’ll be going, but the surprises are where the magic happens.

This is a craft we can apply ourselves to – finding ways to provide both surprises and signposts.

Because in today’s world of scarce attention, to break through we need to be able to create some magic. But without the signposts, we may have no one with us to experience it.

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