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David Windle

Opposite Leg Ltd


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The Business of Play


The Business of Play

Play is a serious business, there’s no doubt about that.As children we play all the time; it’s how we explore the world around us and, crucially, how we explore relationships with others.

As adults the amount of play we engage in, especially at work, diminishes. Not only is this a great shame, after all playfulness is joyfulness, it’s also counterproductive.

Play isn’t time wasting or frivolity; it’s a way of working.

It’s time to prioritise play.

Play is connection; and connection is communication.
Feeling playful as a presenter is liberating, but playfulness only occurs where there is space for it to emerge. Often, the most memorable moments from a performance or presentation happen when something unexpected occurs, when something ‘goes wrong’.
It is at these moments, when the plan is accidentally cast aside, that the spontaneous occurs. 
And, the great thing about the spontaneous is that you can’t prepare for it; therefore you have no need to worry about being inventive or interesting, you simply have to be open to letting it happen. 
Play can be something as simple as a smile; a momentary connection with an audience member.
Fear tends to crush playful impulses, and specifically fear of failure or looking silly. Fears makes us tense, makes us close down; fear makes us adhere to our plan. 
The spontaneous is a terrifying, potentially exposing force; so we suppress it by over-planning our presentations, removing all possibility of play sneaking in to humiliate us.
There is another way of looking at presenting and communicating: playfully. 
If we assume that play is both the object of and defining feature of successful communication, the pressure to ‘get it right’ or ‘not look foolish’ or achieve a sale’ is pushed briefly aside.
Play is the reason to communicate – all other positive effects of your communication will follow from you being playful, as play is genuine connection. 
At one end of the playful scale we have complete free flowing improvisation, but a more sensible approach is to structure your play. 
Too much structure in a speech leads to lifelessness. Too little can be chaos.
Plan space into our presentation: space for you to talk off the cuff, space for your audience to interact, or simply space for silence and thought. 
Play is how we explore the world around us and our relationships, exploration is immediate and inspiring, so work a bit of play into your presentations and communication.
Make every communication an exploration of the world; both you and your audience will be fascinated.
Find out how we can inject play into your communcation at

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David Windle


Read more from David Windle

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