Breaking Down Barriers with... Play-Doh?!

Breaking Down Barriers with… Play-Doh?!

Written By:

Lynn Whitbeck

When you read the title of this post, many of you may wonder, what the what? Let me explain. When we’re in meetings and presenting to a group of individuals, many people arrive with preconceived notions, are set in their way of doing things, or have a completely different agenda on their mind. The most important thing you can do is shake up their paradigm so that they’ll hear what you have to share and actively listen. Pique their interest so they’ll better understand the information you present.

Replacing Barriers with Some Unexpected Fun

It’s about breaking down the barriers. How do you do this? I’ve tried many tactics over the years. Whether you’re in a conference room or a classroom setting, if you’re with a smaller group – say, under 20 people – there is one sure-fire method you must try: Get out the Play-Doh. Yep, that’s right. Play-Doh.

I choose the small size canisters of Play-Doh available online or at the local toy store. Try 2oz cans or 3oz cans for your group. Often, I have printed and applied custom labels to wrap around the Play-Doh so that it’s branded with my company, their organization, or the meeting discussion.

The great thing about Play-Doh is that most people have fond memories of it and played with it as kids. There are usually several individuals in the room that have young children who are currently playing with Play-Doh. The beauty of this is that, after your meeting, those parents will happily take the Play-Doh home.

Why Play-Doh?

So why does Play-Doh work so well? Because it’s a disruptive element that you’ve introduced into the meeting. You are truly shaking up their concept of what a business presentation is all about. As I mentioned previously, Play-Doh is normally associated with fond memories and additionally provides a tactile experience, attracting and engaging your audience with sight, sound, touch, and smell. (Remember the slightly unique aroma of Play-Doh?)

There are a number of different ways you can use Play-Doh, but the key is to hand it out at the beginning of the meeting. Ask your audience to pass it around, open it up, and start working with it in their hands. Now you’re going to tell them why they have this exercise today: So they can stretch their mind just as they’re stretching the Play-Doh. So they can reform their perceptions just as they’re reforming the Play-Doh. They’re opening their minds to the possibilities of what you have to share.

Disrupting the Meeting Mindset

In my experience, at this point in the presentation I’ve got them. Their attention is completely focused, and they are ready to actively listen to what I have to present. The Play-Doh has effectively broken down the barriers and allowed them to explore new ideas. At the end of the presentation, as you put away the Play-Doh, remind them that, even though they’re closing the lid on it, they can always open it up and use it again. They’ve now discovered how they can affect change with the information you’ve shared. It’s time to take action. Just as they entered the room with preconceived notions, now is the time to reframe their thoughts and move forward.

Using Play-Doh in this manner can help you actively engage your audience, focusing their attention on the discussion and opening their mind to new possibilities. You will create a lasting impression and a memorable experience. Express urgency that they want to take action in the short-term, because like Play-Doh, that eventually goes dry and crumbles, this terrific opportunity you have presented is for the here and now. Now is the time for them to move forward and take action.

So give it a try. You’ll be surprised and excited by the results you achieve.

 

Petite2Queen provides virtual mentoring to young women in life, at work, and in sales. Follow us for more practical advice you can put to use to improve your life and career.

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