Take it outside

Alright, I mean in a practical context. Not in the thick of winter or during a storm or when the landscaping team are mowing the lawns. But there is a lot of research being discussed to support the theory that getting outside for meetings, town halls or simply for inspiration for your next presentation will immerse you and your audience in happiness, positive thinking and creativity. Here are two very personal examples.

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Before I created Stun, I was a freelancer that was tasked by my clients to come up with creative concepts and designs for a whole bunch of projects. The deadlines were always tight, and in those days, it was just me. No one to bounce off. Poor baby. By sheer luck, I discovered a process that worked every time I got stuck trying to generate a fresh idea. Sitting at a desk or staring at a screen didn’t solve it. But taking a walk in a natural environment for 45 minutes? It NEVER failed. I wouldn’t even need to specifically focus on the challenge. A solution would just happen. I know it sounds a little mystical - some creative hippies I know believe that ideas are out there and enter their being without permission -  but I still use it as a problem solving methodology and it still works. The walk must happen in nature, not along a busy noisy roadway, and I need to be moving. A nap under a tree isn’t going to cut it.

One of my longest served clients (can you believe 22 years?) asked me to create a presentation that was to be delivered at night in a forest. No marquee or canopy. Just lanterns, old established pine trees, wooden benches to sit on and carefully designed lighting. The sounds of the forest at night were immersive, and at the risk of sounding a tad musical theatre, there was a sense of magic felt by the 120 attendees in the audience, spellbound by their environment and an incredible performance from the CEO. 16 years later, the client still reminds me of the powerful impact that presentation made. Nature helped deliver the message that night, and while Virtual Reality is heralded as a new wave of sensory experiences, Reality is pretty hard to top.

At its most basic level, we are of course supposed to be outside. Or alternatively, we are not really supposed to spend most of our day in a building, a car, a school  a gym, a café or a house. Being outside, especially in nature, connects us to the complex ecosystems our bodies and minds have been attuned to for thousands of years. We relax, we open up and we become highly sensitised because we are where we are supposed to be. 

Got a big presentation to write? Get inspired by getting outside (and keep walking!). Got a big presentation to make? See if you can design it for execution in a park or natural environment. Your audience will be excited by the novelty of the new even before you deliver it.