Oral Presentation: Reflection

     In researching material for the oral presentation, it was very interesting and fun to prepare for and it is important to use real-life examples. To me, it brought the theory of strategic communication on a more personal level. Even though the personal scenario was a small misstep in the communication process, it further illustrates how the smallest of things shape a perception about a person or a situation. Language, whether it be oral or written has the power to shape a social structure. Berger best stated it when he asserted that individuals are the creators of the social world, and in turn are the creation of the social world (Ihlen, et. al, 2009, p. 48). Another point of Berger’s that I agree with is that individuals do “produce and star” in their own perceived reality. The cause is because people are simply trying to understand the world around them, which in turn translates into human communication patterns. It is from these perceptions that the communication process is often interrupted or misconstrued or a totally different meaning is attached to a situation.

       This course is stretching me in the areas of using digital media tools and it is positive experience. Normally, I do not have to produce many oral presentations, so many of the tools available are not familiar to me. However, I am always eager to gain some experience with different media tools. Sound Cloud is an excellent tool that is not complicated to use. However, I do believe it takes a certain amount of patience to work with any form of digital media. In a communication course I took in the spring semester, I had some experience with using Sound Cloud and now I am getting a chance to re-visit some of the elements of the tool I learned before. Sound Cloud is very easy to use and it does not require creating a username and password unless desired. In fact, a Facebook log-in is another alternative to signing up for the service. Less usernames and passwords to keep up with is a real benefit for me. The best benefit of using Sound Cloud is that is free. The overall process was effortless and the media tools available are very user-friendly.

       The course and this assignment helped me discover my abilities and skills; some that are under-developed and others that I use on a regular basis. That is part of the discovery and the process and it is very exciting to see myself grow as a learner. The entire process had me working on problem areas, such as the clarity of my speaking voice and speaking slow. Those areas are typical problems in my experience with public speaking. Also, I had very limited experience with Sound Cloud until I entered the Communications program. It is giving me the opportunity to explore the tool and its uses. When I make videos I usually use my smart phone and upload the video to YouTube. However, Sound Cloud offers a much more sophisticated means of producing audio and video. The process itself was quick and easy and as a result, I created a quality work.



SWITCH: How to Change Things When Change is Hard—A Book Review

Switch: How to Change Things When Change Is Hard

Chip Heath and Dan Heath

Swtich Image

        This book is a fairly enlightening narrative regarding change and how to deal with it. A quote by John F. Kennedy that is not used by the authors but I think is fitting: “Change is the law of life. And those who only look to the past or present are certain to miss the future.” In essence, this is the Heaths’ message in this book. Instead of being preachy or giving dull diatribes, they use clever analogies such as the elephants and riders and finding the bright spot. The Heaths sprinkle several parables throughout this narrative to drive home specific points, which makes “Switch” such a remarkable reading experience that will soon have the reader re-evaluating their own resistance to change and how they act.

        Authors Chip and Dan Heath aim to show how change is, or rather the resistance to change is simply a “switch” that is in our brain. We have the power to turn that switch, either on or off. However, our human brains like to complicate this process so that we do not have to accept the inevitable. Therefore, they used the rider, elephant and path analogy to explain that resistance which exists in the human psyche in regards to change. The rider is the thinker or planner, the elephant is the legs that get the plan accomplished. The path is simply the road that is shaped by the reactions of the rider and the actions of the elephant (Heath and Heath, 2010). The conceptual framework of the rider, elephant, and the path analogy is ingenious and will forever stay ingrained in relation to change theory.

       Finding a “bright spot” was one of my favorite concepts as it merely deals with finding one aspect in a situation, whether in organizational or personal life, and capitalizing on it. The old phrase “extenuate the positive” comes into play here. Reflection in this reader’s own work and personal life reveals that this reader buys into the bright spot theory long before she knew of its existence. It is a natural human reaction to look on the bright side. As a fan of bluegrass music, an old familiar Carter Family song comes to mind with the lyrics: “There is a dark and troubled side to life, There is a bright and sunny side too, Though we meet with the darkness and strife, The sunny side we may also view”.

       Simply, it’s the thought that big problems necessarily do not require big and complex solutions, and that is how problems should be tackled. It could be just a simple change or adjustment from one thing that is not working to one thing that is. An unforgettable example in the book involves the case of improving nutrition practices in a Vietnamese village. A very common diet change combatted the huge problem that plagued the village for years. Amazing? Not really, all it took was a brief “what if we did this, to accomplish that” which did just that!

       The Heaths go to much trouble in illustrating their switch theory. In that, they used many different scenarios from life to accomplish their assertions. At times it seems if they were going just a bit far. After a while, it was as the reader, wanted to say, “Yes I do finally get the concept, so what other new insights have you discovered that will further this theory”? Perhaps for the very purpose of showing us how to achieve a smoother path in the midst of the rider and elephant mindset is why the Heaths chose this method. It was as if they making the reader stretch their mind or simply showing that change is long and winding and taking the scenic route is necessary at best. It safer to assume that instead of believing they began to chase proverbial rabbits.

       “Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard”, should be the clinical manual for organizational change. No other book I have read has plainly gotten to the heart of the problem than the Heaths’. In the era of globalization, down-sizing, and homeland security threats, change constitutes many things and uncertainty looms whenever any different alternative to the standard flow of life is presented. Change is scary but anticipating change is what is frightening and the Heath’s utilization of “decision paralysis” is classic. How many people both in personal and professional matters experience decision paralysis? For many people, it would seem better to not make any decision at all rather than face the problem and the apparent solution that may produce positive or negative results. This is what makes “Switch” tick, the Heaths are full aware of the wiring of the human brain, the flaws, the fickleness, and the insecurities and they are not afraid to tell the reader it is time to “switch” that thinking!

        As a young professional in the early 2000’s, how unfortunate it was that I did not discover this book. At that time, I was in an organization experiencing many organizational shifts. However, much insight was gained on how I could have internally handled the dramatic shifts by simply understanding that change is constant and necessary. For young and older professionals alike, this book will still serve its purpose: because change will be ever-present in any job or life situation. Anyone who works in the field of education, politics, health and so on, will benefit from this book. Actually anyone who experiences change (i.e. everyone) will gain a better understanding of how to control the mind toward change.

       Toward the close of the book, the Heaths give the reader the key to making the switch. It is more of a just do it reflex than anything else. The rider had nothing to do with it, motivating the elephant was not main objective, maybe adjusting the path a little is the key or maybe just doing the inevitable, embracing the change and taking the necessary steps is the whole purpose of the switch theory. Don’t simply think, just do. It is due to the concept of simplicity that maybe that perspectives of a situation should not come from internally but from externally? In the context of an organization, an outside observer could be the person to pin-point a problem for low sales over the last quarter.

      The idealistic college student studying to become a professional in the communications field will see the role of change in strategic communication within the change theory. The main idea of this work is this: sometimes change comes and it’s hard to make the “switch. But, “switch your thinking” and you will change with the change. Ultimately, people look to their managers, or those they respect in life to help them understand change to be able to cope with it. However, that is where breakdown often occurs and the need for strategic communication practices is sorely needed. The truth is that every person is either a rider or elephant and only how a person reacts to change will determine if they remain riders or elephants. How they communicate the change or communicate as a result of the change will reveal if a “switch” was truly flipped.

      Upon analysis of the background of this book, it was discovered that Chip and Dan Heath are the authors of another book that is the similar vein of “Switch” called “Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die”. I firmly believe that this book would be a good companion to “Switch”, it would be interesting to see if the Heaths are able to make a correlation between resistance and submittal to change versus the survival of some ideas. Both works would make for an eye-opening experience.


Blenkhorn, A. (1899).  Keep on the sunny side [Recorded by the Carter Family]. On Can the circle be unbroken? [Album]. Nashville, TN: Columbia/Legacy

Heath, C., & Heath, D.  (2010). Switch: How to change things when change is hard. New York: Crown Publishing Group.

[Media]. Retrieved from URL : Crown Publishing Group. (2010). Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard [Image]. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Switch-change-things-when-hard-ebook/dp/B0030DHPGQ/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1410111340&sr=8-3&keywords=made+to+stick


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