A good friend of mine went on a date with a girl he liked a lot.
How did it go? I asked him the next day.
Great, he replied. I told her all about my job, my family, my hobbies, my life, the lot.
And what did you find out about her?
Has she messaged you about getting together again?
That's the funny thing... no.
I mentioned that story to a group of lovely Scottish Government Civil Servants I was talking to about communications in Edinburgh this week.
The reason? They'd been kind enough to say they really enjoyed the course, and got a lot from it.
We were discussing what makes a good teaching session, speech, or workshop - anything to do with communications.
The answer, for me, is about making it a conversation; a dialogue, rather than a monologue.
(i.e. very much NOT like my dear friend's best efforts at his date.)
Who wants to just sit there and be talked at? You're quickly going to lose interest.
But if your presenter (or date!) asks you questions, poses challenges, prompts discussions, sets you tasks and makes you think...
The dynamic of the room changes. In an instant.
From something flat to a far more sparky, engaging and interesting experience.
It's a trick that works across the communications field -
From speeches (Who needs rhetorical questions?!), to soundbites (Ask not what your country can do for you, Ask what you can do for your country...)
To social media (What's your opinion of...?) to plays (listen to Under Milk Wood for the wonderful variety of voices) to teaching, like my session in Scotland.
Which all sounds simple enough. But the tricky part is that it requires courage.
Because there's always that big Will anyone actually respond? moment.
And what's the worst thing that can happen on a date? Or in a lecture, or talk, when the presenter asks a question? What are we afraid of?
Silence... tumbleweed... awkwardness...
But, in my experience, someone always pipes up.
Because they instinctively understand that's the way communication works.
If you'll excuse my fancy for playing with words - dialogue agog, monologue slog.
And once that ice is broken you're away and running, heading happily for the sunlit uplands of a rewarding and enjoyable lecture, talk, or workshop.
(Or even a date.)