Fast forward 23 years, not only have I grown comfortable with speaking to individuals or to a crowd, I learnt to make sure that what I was saying was not only heard but considered.
Yes, it could be the way I am, a very outspoken, self-assertive individual that could grab attention when I spoke. However, I’ve also seen the quietest person be the loudest in the room, not by how loud they speak, but how they deliver their thoughts.
So that presents the topic of my contribution, everyone can talk, but can everyone deliver?
The late Stephen Hawking said that “quiet people have the loudest minds”, and I can’t agree more.The beauty about our industry is that, everyone one in it is different. You have your loud, out-there folk, those who are calculated and precise, and individuals who most of the time are quiet, but when they speak surprise you. Having been in the industry for four years, I’m aware that we are all time-poor, and that most of our creative juices are spread across various projects, clients and brain-storms. Collectively as a group when not engaged in client work, we are definitely a mix of clashing personalities – not in a bad way, but in a way that would yield an unexpected level of creativity if given the opportunity.
The first step to conviction is purpose. Purpose in the words that you say, to ensure whoever is listening will stay, to cause those who are unconvinced to sway, to turn mundane work into play. Yes, that rhymed.
To help my colleagues break out of the routine of being creative only for client work, and as Chief Fun Officer in Singapore, the LEWIS Poetry Slam was born – a no holds barred showdown of words, an opportunity for the quiet ones to be loud and for the loud ones to be calculated. Everyone in our office – from account servicing to finance – were broken up into teams and apart from a few must-have’s in their poems, the rest was up to them.
I was not expecting what was to come. The teams took what was intended to be a light-hearted activity, very seriously. Some even cut their lunch time short to hold team meetings while others coordinated outfits and even choreographed delivery of their poems.
The main rule of this exercise was everyone one in the team had to have an equal speaking part so that the more outspoken individuals were not the only ones in the spotlight. Not only did everyone fulfil this criterion, they took it upon themselves to develop unique methods of delivery, create structure within their team to ensure flow, and ultimately to give everyone a voice.
Even though it was a competition and they were judged, it was never really how impressive their content was. It was about how they delivered their content – and that it was important that they didn’t only talk, but they delivered. The usual “quiet” ones were loud in their own ways, the loud ones delivered with conviction and not just noise and creativity got its breath of fresh air.
The success of our first ever LEWIS Poetry Slam has inspired many other offices. In fact, it could be an exercise we hold every two quarters. Whatever it is, we highly recommend exploring initiatives and avenues that allow us to be creative for the sake of being creative.