Know Your Audience: A short example from Pixar

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Pixar’s short film One Man Band is an excellent example of presenters who don’t know their audience. Here is the story from Pixar:  

With one coin to make a wish at the piazza fountain, a peasant girl encounters two competing street performers who’d prefer the coin find its way into their tip jars. The little girl, Tippy, is caught in the middle as a musical duel ensues between the one-man-bands.  

The street performers become so competitive that they lose sight of their role as musicians. Each makes several assumptions that weaken any chance of “winning” the coin:  

  1. They have what the audience needs
  2. The more they push the better the message
  3. They must compete in front of the audience to win
  4. Their art/product/message is secondary to winning
  5. They have more skill than the audience

Unfortunately these assumptions are not limited to cartoons. Trainers who assume they know the subject matter better than the audience and disparage the competition are far too common. Another problem is when the services being provided are viewed as secondary.  A presenter who wants to stop on the edge of what is wanted, at the expense of the audience, misses the point of being a messenger.

Fortunately, Pixar didn’t stop on the edge and delivers an excellent story. They could have stopped producing short films years ago but they’ve chosen to deliver greatness in small packages even when the audience has already paid.  

The opposite of One Man Band is my favorite Pixar short, Boundin’. Buy all four minutes and forty-three seconds of Boundin’ on iTunes and watch a master teacher embodied in a jackalope.

This entry was posted in conflict, Leadership, Presentations, Story Telling, Teaching, video. Bookmark the permalink.

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