The most common killer of a bright idea is a dull execution. Boredom interferes with understanding. It lets the mind wander as it searches for something to care about. It fails to engage the emotions of the audience, turning their experience into a tedious intellectual exercise.

The antidote to boredom, unsurprisingly, is surprise. The element of surprise is the most powerful weapon in the creative arsenal. It confounds our expectations and rivets our attention. It makes competing stimuli fade into the background as we focus on what suddenly seems important.

Surprise can take the form of drama, shock, wit, or even extreme ...

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