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Shake and Fold

July 11th, 2012

I saw this a few months back, and for a simple concept it’s genius in its execution. Take five minutes and watch:

First the speaker, Joe Smith, has a very simple goal, reduce the amount of paper towels people use.  The execution in it is taking that large goal and distilling it into a simple, easy to learn concept.  It boils down to two steps.

1. Shake

2. Fold

After he demonstrates the using of one paper towel he repeats the process over and over. The idea and his method infects your brain.  Since I’ve watched this I haven’t used a washroom without thinking of this video, and have adopted the method in how I dry my hands.

This simple lesson also points to some important reminders about making presentations.  People tend to retain things they see, hear and perform at a higher rate than that which they only read. People will retain something that is repeated – six times seems to be the optimum when it comes to repetition – during a learning session. People tend to remember the first Shake+Fold Flyerthing and the last thing in a list – so a two item list (while not really legal for a bulleted list, unless you institute a “There is no number 2” rule) – helps with retention. Finally, people tend to remember things that are linked to something they already know, everybody washes their hands, and using the number 12 in context cements the “how many times?” concept pretty easily.

The follow on lesson is we also tend to remember things when we can teach it back to someone else. That small 5 minute talk inspired someone to make a handy graphic, that they’ve used to spread the knowledge along.  While the handy flyer isn’t as effective as the 5 minute presentation it makes the same point, and helps to pass on the knowledge to people that haven’t seen the nifty TED talk.

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