Brainstorming Audience Centered Techniques

Facilitating Reflection and Expression

The techniques and strategies that will be most effective for interpreting with 21st century audiences are those in which audience members are included as co-creators of their interpretive experiences, with opportunities to reflect, express, participate and contribute. Brainstorming techniques can be rewarding, but it requires some work.

Here are some ideas:

  • Story Sharing – Turn information or chronology into a short story; then let the audience share their own stories.
  • Quotes in their Voices – Invite the audience to read quotes then rephrase the quote in their own words. Ask your audience to share a favorite quote of their own which this one brings to mind.
  • Intentional Silence – Provide moments of silence – from short pauses for audiences to process or consider a response to longer opportunities for personal reflection.
  • Journaling – Provide a time, space and materials for journaling thoughts, feelings and ideas in silence.
  • Interpreter Prompts – Use a variety of strategically placed and well-crafted questions (open ended, rhetorical), then offer space for actively answering.
  • Compare and Contrast – Ask your audience to imagine a change in their perspective (e.g., “Picture this same scene with five more feet of water, 5 more degrees F, etc.”) and share their thoughts.
  • Transitional Dialogue – Ask questions or pose imagination suggestions as transitions on walks and tours (e.g., “As we walk the next section of the trail, think about your favorite place to commune with nature…”).
  • Community Membership – Request visitors to reflect on issues as both an individual and as a community member.
  • Open Stem Statements – Use “fill in the blank” statements as invitations for reflection or expression (e.g., Today I hope to…; In ten years I hope to…; I was surprised to discover that…; What scares me most is…; What I am most hopeful about is…).
  • Real-Life Echoes – Consider the power of questions that intentionally link concepts of the program to scenes or events the visitors will likely encounter outside the park—such as traffic jams, children in a school yard, the first emergence of buds and blooms—to create triggers for further reflection.
  • Artistic Expression – Provide opportunities for visitors to draw or write short poetry/prose as a reflection exercise, possibly followed by a time to share with the group, post in a visitor contact station, or post electronically in an online gallery of community response to critical issues.
  • Alternate Viewpoints – Encourage visitors to place themselves in the shoes of others visitors (i.e. those who may experience more extreme or dire effects of climate change and/or have less ability to alter their circumstances) and express their.
  • Audience is Always Right – Develop techniques to “leave it hanging” – help the audience ponder questions that don’t have concrete or “right” answers; develop unanswered questions that challenge people of all persuasions/values/beliefs to think critically about why they think the way they do.

Additional Reading

Looking For More on Audience Centered Experiences?

Audience Centered Experience Button - Two Pictogram Visitors talking to a pictogram rangerYou can find much more self-guided learning and all of the materials for making yourself an ACE in the Audience Centered Experience Interpretation workbook.

Interpretive Leadership button - a pictogram ranger leading a group of other rangers higherYou can find links to seasonal lesson plans which support this emerging skill set in the Audience Centered Experience Trainers’ Guide.

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  1. This definitely opened my eyes into researching and hopefully using these techniques. It would be nice though if each topic had a link to a video demonstration. Something to show a professional in action. One that I would particularly like to see is the “Intentional Silence” technique.


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