Thursday, 19 November 2009

A couple of enquiries

Any suggestions?

I have just had a couple of very similar enquires, from two different continents, both from people wishing to introduce Conductive Education:

The first is from a conductor:

I am compiling an information sheet, just one page, was thinking brief info on CE and history, services provided by CE and further information (websites).

The second is not:

Once again, I am faced with having 15 minutes to explain to an audience of local business people about our CE program. What to do? How do others approach this?


I suppose that there is no abstract 'ideal' answer to their enquiries. Many contextual factors will act upon what one puts in, and how one pitches it. For example:

  • Who are you, where are you coming from, what are your personal, human insights into this? The biggest distinction here is whether you are a parent or a conductor (great advantages, none of which I shared), which will help fix your tone and your content. Whoever you are, be specific and concrete in what you say. Start by introducing yourself (credentialing yourself, as they say in court) in just these terms: sell yourself and then the punters will be half-way to buying your product.
  • Who is CE for? You'd better take up just a little of your precious space/time by telling who benefits from CE, ages, conditions etc, and make sure that this includes families as well.
  • Who is your audience? My conductor specified 'schools, families and a range of health professionals', and presumably has some specific things that she has in mind and wants from them. My centre-manager has specified 'local business people', and presumably has other things in mind. In either case one should be specific in saying what you want, and what specifically your audience will see for this in return.
  • Neither of these audience is likely to be particularly interested in academic matters, in history, philosophy, theory, research, social policy. Questions about such matters come later. Do have some answers ready for the usual questions at the appropriate point, but try not to respond to these at people's first exposure, before they have even asked them! Be concrete, stick to practice. Who does what to whom, why, how and what comes out of it?
  • Aggro. Don't. Have some responses ready in case they are needed but use the limited time (15 minutes) or space (one page) to set out your agenda and concentrate on your own positive priorities.
  • Jargon. Ditch it. No pedagogy, no dysfunction, no orthofunction, no rhythmical intention. If you can't explain CE without such stuff, then wonder why. Say what you want to say in the language that people want to hear it. If you are at all uncertain about the quality of you English (or whatever language is being used) get a 'critical friend', to make sure that you have got it right. And by the way, that goes for native speakers too!
  • Here and now. Forget Hungary, forget Pető (the man and the institution). That's all very well for academics but who cares? Its history now,and that was in another country? Explain what local people need, what you can offer, how you intend to achieve this, etc.
  • Be very, very human, and real. Personal experiences, yours, children's, parents' Use vignettes (little stories), photos, video shots. Let go the process (all that stuff about furniture and 1, 2, 3) concentrate on describing or showing the results. In my experience the best advocates are parents, talking.
  • Lose the 'motor' problems. Don't forget them, but let them take their proper, proportionate space amidst all the other things that Conductive Education has to consider and achieve.
  • And don't say 'therapy' or 'cure'! Nuff already said!

Back to you now

That anyway is the general sort of approach that I came to over the years. It suited me. Take me out of the equation, insert the variables from yourself, own situation, and your audience, and see what comes up. Certainly more that 15 minutes or one page!

It is tricky enough to introduce Conductive Education, but in 'just one page' or in 'fifteen minutes'? Now that is tricky. Tricky or no it is certainly necessary to be able to this. All I can say is that if people want more, then you provide them with means to find out. This so much easier (and cheaper) nowadays. Make sure that your presentation includes contact details and that when they follow these up, the website or the voice that answers is capable of following the same sort of principles as have been suggested above.

Above all, if you really want to swing things in your favour, arrange for people to come along later and see for themselves if humanly possible.

Comments, suggestions, examples please, to help my two correspondents.

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