Show AND Tell

23 04 2012

What is the difference between beginners and experienced science presenters? One difference is the number of demos they perform in a show.

I watched a show last week where 15 demos were performed in 75 minutes. That’s an average of one demo every five minutes. Is that a lot of demos or not? How many demos should we be aiming to have in a show?

Watch this clip of Steve Spangler. He manages to perform 6 demos in three minutes.

The treatment of science demonstrations falls into three categories: Tell then Show, Show then Tell and Show AND Tell.

Tell then Show is boring. Novice science presenters do this a lot. They tell us about what we are about to see and then show it to us. They do this because they think they need to sound intelligent.

Show then Tell is better. More experienced presenters use this technique. As you become more confident in your demos and the impact they are going to have you can first get the audience’s attention and then explain what is going on.

Steve Spangler demonstrates that the best science presenters use Show AND Tell.

Instead of telling us about the science (indicators revealing chemical changes) then showing us the final demo, or showing us the final demo and then explaining what we had just seen he has carefully crafted a chain of demos that accompanies his verbal explanation. Show AND Tell.

I have learnt a lot from watching Steve Spangler’s videos on YouTube and from the number of times I’ve seen UK presenters copy his big finale tricks I’d guess I’m not alone. There is more to his videos though than great ideas to rip-off. We can learn how an expert crafts his explanation to include lots of demos. How an expert science presenter uses Show AND Tell.

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