Tell the story

March 17, 2010

The best way to get people talking is to entertain them

Filed under: Featured — andrewchilvers @ 6:01 pm

The best way to get people talking is to entertain them.

I saw this at first hand yesterday in Liverpool at a huge exhibition and conference focused on transforming personal care. The event was attended by local authority transformation leads, carers, and people with disabilities and mental health problems, so a good mix of attendees

There were the usual suspects advertising their wares, handing out mints, chocolates, squeezy stress heads and – my favourite – balls that light up when you bounce them (couldn’t resist filching several of these).

And some of the workshops, while well meaning, bordered on the very tedious.

Nevertheless, the good bits were VERY good. There were dance troupes, a bell ringing Town Crier decked out in Georgian garb, an Elvis impersonator and a comedy troupe called Abnormally Funny People. This bunch have just finished a season at the Soho Theatre and boasted only one “normal” person (ie a person without a disability). The humour was not all about disabilities; it was simply put on by people with disabilities. That was the point. Fairly risqué stuff, but the audience loved it.

In many of the workshops people were invited to take part. From citizen leadership in the community to helping mental health service users understand personalised care, this was how conferences should work. The audience were tasked to help solve various conundrums among themselves. – and have some fun doing it.

Jenny Pitts from Shropshire CC headed a brilliant exercise in audience participation in her workshop on cultural change in the community. Here a couple actors from http://www.peopledeliverprojects.com gave a role playing exercise, one of them a cynical team leader who believed change wasn’t possible, the other a young eager assistant director eager for change. Throughout the workshop the audience was invited to stop the action and get the actors to use a different approach to solving their communication problems. It was funny, engaging and thought provoking. Everyone loved it.

The only workshop missing was a truly interactive one where people used Web 2.0 tools, cameras and social media to show how communities can grow through networks and active participation. That’s where I come in. Next time.

Below is an interview with Andy Taylor and Dave Rowen of people deliver projects and Jenny Pitts, Shropshire CC. Also Elvis singing In The Ghetto, followed by a chat with the king.

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