FRONT OF THE ROOM – Brian Lange
Being interesting can be an essential component for training delivery
A friend celebrated one of those “milestone” birthdays this past weekend. His brother was in town for the socially distanced, outside-on-the-back-patio, very small gathering. The brother made a comment the following day to my friend: “Wow, you have such interesting and good friends!”
It reminded me of something I had read recently in the Wall Street Journal. While describing a person, the writer explained, “he was also relentlessly interesting … I have come to realize that being interesting is the single most important trait in all communication.”
As facilitators, we would be wise to “unpack” these observations a bit. What does it mean to be interesting? Is it an essential component for our deliveries? What role — if any — does being interesting play in connecting with others, in making an impact? And, is there anything we can do to be more interesting? Or, as adults, are we already at our static level?
What Is Interesting?
Acknowledging my total lack of scholarship around the concept of being interesting, let’s explore the topic anyway!
It strikes me that being interesting must contain some element of passion, energy or even earnestness. Perhaps this helps spark engagement from others? My oldest brother is an actuary by training (like a Ph.D.-level mathematician), and when he talks about numbers, his eyes light up and enthusiasm oozes from his being. I can’t help but be pulled in a bit by his passion for the subject — even if it doesn’t ultimately get me fired up for numbers/patterns in general.
So, when he talks about numbers, I can appreciate his zeal and it helps me stay connected to a given conversation longer than if he dispassionately spouted numbers and their corresponding stories.
The attendees at the small birthday came from a variety of life paths — but, in thinking more deeply about each of the people, I can guess how each was judged to be “interesting” by my friend’s brother. First off, we all share an affinity for the birthday boy. He, himself, is the common denominator of the group — and is, in fact, a very interesting person: He craves knowledge, is highly engaged in his health and fitness, is a great Midwestern storyteller, and is always there for you whenever needed. And, he’s kind and thoughtful. He is also always interested in you.
This is where I think of the other attendees: They, too, share this trait of being interested in you. Genuine curiosity, enthusiasm and encouragement were all on display that evening. It reminds me of the old phrase that goes something like this: “If you want to be interesting, be interested.”
Enthusiasm and Passion
Dale Carnegie famously pointed out that a person’s favorite subject tends to be themselves. So, it makes sense that there may be a nice connection between being interested in others and being perceived as interesting.
As facilitators, perhaps the guidance could be to ensure we apply some enthusiasm and passion to our deliveries (both for the content and how we deliver). Focus on being truly interested in those in the audience, and help listeners to ponder questions, perspectives or views that may help spark their own thinking.
Ultimately, I don’t think we have to be relegated to a static level of interesting-ness. In fact, a quick Google search shows there are innumerable tips online for how to be more interesting (e.g., have a “Yes” month where you accept all invitations, or listen to podcasts, etc.).
I often give trainers the challenge of listening to a recording of themselves to see if they’re interesting to listen to. Perhaps that’s a task you might accept as well — even if you’re not currently participating in a “Yes” month.
Brian Lange is with Perim Consulting and serves as lead facilitator for LTEN
PrimeTime! For Trainers Core and Masters Workshops. Email Brian at