Dimming the lights

People always ask us for more examples of ways to show – vs. tell – the value of their idea or proposal. Of course they do! Because it’s much stickier and interesting if we ourselves “show” – vs. tell about – these. Here’s one that Alan Scott and his smart team at national consultancy Green Building Services came up with during a recent workshop. The team was working on a presentation about adopting green strategies for a large audience of school principals, administrators and School Board members.

“I want to take a few minutes to show you what I think you’ll get out of the next hour. Are there any teachers in the audience?” A number of hands went up, and a GBS team member chose one. “Come on up here, sir.” The teacher’s name was Jeff. With a few questions, the consultant established that Jeff was a middle school science teacher with a passion for hands-on experiments.

“Jeff, I’d like you to stay up here with me.” The consultant looked at his watch, paused for a moment, then gestured to a colleague at the back of the auditorium. “Will you take the lights down, please?”

The lights dimmed – about halfway – while the consultant stayed focused on his wristwatch. The room fell silent. More seconds passed. More silence. A bit of rustling here and there, then silence again. 30 full seconds, although it felt like longer.

His colleague brought the lights back up. “Doing that,” he said, pointing to the auditorium lights, “will get you this,” and he clapped Jeff on the shoulder. “Adding daylight control and occupancy sensors to your classrooms means your lights automatically adjust to the optimal level for your students – without overworking when the room is empty or there’s full daylight streaming in the windows. This saves about $400 per classroom per year – which can go right back into your budget. And depending on the number of schools in your district, that will add one or two full-time Jeffs to your payroll.

“Over the next 55 minutes, I’m going to share a range of green strategies that will save you money and let you put it toward what you care most about: educating kids. Here we go.”

Makes you want to jump up and turn off any unnecessary lights, doesn’t it?

Have you seen or done a “show” that was simple and high-impact? Any examples to share?