How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich: A Speed Session Preview

By Shannon Keleher | Posted on June 4, 2013

New this year at the NRPA Congress and Exposition are Speed Sessions. These are 40 of the most exciting, fun and innovative sessions delivered in just 20-minutes.  But what the heck are the Speed Sessions all about?  

In this post written by Shannon Keleher, Recreation Manager for the City of Gainesville, Florida she shares what is behind her session, “How to Make a Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich.” Trust us, it is delicious but in a different way! 

Imagine your staff walking into a conference room for a staff meeting and instead of the expected agenda they see a blank sheet of paper and a pen.  “What’s this for?” people start to ask as you stand there smiling waiting for everyone to arrive.  “Where’s our agenda for today’s meeting?” they ask.  

“Today, your task is to write a set of directions telling me how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”  Imagine the looks on their faces.  I can assure you, they are priceless. 

Peanut Butter Sandwich photo
Do you know how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? This Speed Session will unveil more to it than you think!

 We know that communication is essential to success and that it is comprised not only of words but of body language and vocal tone.  It is simply the exchange of information.  It sounds so easy yet a “lack of communication” is often cited as one of the biggest challenges in any workplace or personal relationship. 

Why is it so hard to communicate effectively?  In our minds and to our ears the directions we give and the information we share is so clear.  Why then are the results we are seeking often so elusive and blamed on a “lack of communication?”

In an effort to uncover the secret code to effective communication, sell the code and make my first million dollars, I decided to ask my staff to describe how to do something that most of us have probably done hundreds of times; make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.  It sounds easy, right?  

Stop and think for a minute about how you would do it.    

The main ingredients are easy: bread, peanut butter and jelly.  It’s the details that will challenge you.  Stop here and write the directions; how long could it take?

Did you remember a plate? A knife?  Did you remember to open the jar of peanut butter before trying to get some out?  If you chose a squeeze-bottle of jelly did you remember to turn it upside down before you used it?  If you didn’t communicate those things to me, how was I supposed to know I had to do them?

Are you starting to picture what the conference room looked like at the end of this “experiment?”  

Using this example can you think of a time when you thought you were communicating clearly and realize now maybe you weren’t as clear as you thought you had been?  What was the situation?  What was the outcome?

If you have ever heard that communication is the problem, a peanut butter and jelly sandwich may be the solution.  I challenge you to try it and share YOUR results with me!

Learn more about the NRPA Annual Conference.


About Shannon Keleher:  

Shannon Keleher photo Shannon Keleher has a BA in Elementary Education from Transylvania University, a MBA from the University of Central Florida, and is currently pursuing a PhD in Educational Leadership at the University of Florida.  She has worked in education and recreation for more than 20 years and is looking forward to at least 20 more. She is certified as a CPRE, AFO, FL Teacher (K-6), WSI, WSIT, LG, and LGI.