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make the audience work for their meal

The Decker Communications blog has a wonderful summary of Andrew Stanton’s presentation at TED.  Stanton is an Oscar-winning writer who worked on Wall-E and all three Toy Stories.  His TED talk is called “The Clues to a Great Story.” It’s a must-watch for anyone who wants to stand up before an audience and communicate with them.

One line caught my attention: “Don’t give them four. Give them two plus two.”

As the Decker blog puts it, make the audience work for their meal.  Rather than give them the answer, teach them how to answer the question.  Engage their curiosity.  Leave a few blanks blank.  Don’t provide every conclusion.

If your goal is transformation, then it’s more important to teach them how to think than what to think.  What to think may solve the immediate problem; how to think provides principles that can be used across many different circumstances.