Awesome Trait #3. Nobody does it better. – SCN Encourager 6/12/2013

Our Awesome Trait #3: filling-in-the-blanks “speedy kwik”

I enjoy looking at the printed pieces, videos, and presentations other school communicators create and distribute.

My wife could hang three new picture frames in our living room and I’d never notice for weeks – but if a neighboring school district modifies its website or sends out flyers announcing a new program – I kick into high gear. (Or at least attempt to…)  

In looking over the range of brochures, posters, video clips, and slide presentations that I see in my duties as a school communicator, of course, I’m interested in the graphics, the color palette, and the “persuasion phrases” used.

Like someone said decades ago, if you see something good, borrow it. If you see something great, steal it!

I’m not sure about the ethics of this maxim, but it does explain why I haven’t had to move any of my own creative work to a secret bank vault in Montana. I can sleep comfortably at night knowing my stuff will not ever be the target of thieves. (But I still wake up once in awhile worrying about “typos,” though… as that was yesterday’s Awesome Trait #2 for School Communicators.)

Featured today is Awesome Trait #3 – which is our keen ability to fill-in-the-blanks in “speedy kwik” record-setting time with only the slimmest amount of information at our disposal.

This shared attribute is a gift.

We’d never meet our deadlines for newsletters, flyers, and videos if we sat back and waited for 100% of the information we need to come waltzing through the door. No way. We typically have to identify where we have “blanks” and then begin rushing about trying to find the people and details necessary to fill them in.

We all discovered long ago that money doesn’t grow on trees. And unfortunately, most of the info we need to complete our “blanks” doesn’t, either.

Awesome Trait #3 is similar to another skill found in school communicators.

Not only are we adept at filling-in-the-blanks, most of us are pretty darn good at connecting-the-dots as well. (Me? I’m just focusing on improving my blank-filling for now. All of my latest dot-connecting efforts have me going in circles. I think I’m in an early summer slump.) 

But whatever we call it – filling in the blanks or connecting the dots – it’s a nice skill to possess.

We’d miss many of our best behind-the-scenes stories, otherwise.

Here’s an honest to goodness real-world example from last week.

Imagine you are now my guest at my district’s alternative high school graduation. (OK, if this seems too presumptuous and chummy… you can imagine instead that you are attending this event with a good friend of YOURS who’s picking up the tab later… and I just happen to be sitting nearby… sound better?)

Let’s continue on with our mental picture. We are seated in the back of a small auditorium. The superintendent, school board, the alternative high school director, and six graduates lined up on stage.

We are sitting in crowd of 250-300 people, mainly the family and friends of the 60 graduates. The folks represent all ages and backgrounds. The atmosphere is a boisterous, high energy, happy one.

As part of the program, six graduates have been asked to step up to the podium one-by-one and describe their personal “journey to their diploma” in three to four minutes.

All six presentations were incredible – but one really stood out.

It was unforgettable and it unfolded like this.

While we were watching the 4th graduate (a young man) walk across the stage to speak, we were startled by the loud yelling of a big man right behind us who had jumped up with waving arms, “That’s my boy! You say it proud, son!”

Amidst the chuckles rippling through the crowd, the young man gave a nod toward his dad in the back of the room and took a deep breath as he adjusted the microphone.

Before uttering his first words, the young man turned and gazed down from the podium off to his left in order to zero-in on someone sitting over there.

“Tonight is the proudest moment of my life,” he began. “I never thought I’d ever get my diploma… but I have. I did it! And, it was all because of you, mom. You were always there. Good times. Bad times. You were always there.”

The audience sat in silence, not quite sure of all that took place.

But we sure do. We’re good at filling-in-the-blanks.

Tom Page, SCN




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