August 31st, 2012
This is nice, and along the lines of my latest hobby horse — grasping the divide between exposition and storytelling.
FOR THE THOUSANDTH TIME … DON’T TELL US, SHOW US
John Heilemann is a sharp guy (his bestselling book “Game Change” with Mark Halperin gave rise to the excellent HBO movie that focused on Sarah Palin). He had some savvy advice for Mitt Romney before his speech last night. Here’s what he said:
“We know the difference between illustration and exposition. We had Ann Romney up there the other night and she did things in exposition — she asserted things in bullet point form — “he’s this, he’s that.” But she didn’t give us illustrative stories — anecdotes — things that reveal him. I think this speech has to be like that — it has to be stories about his father, stories about his kids — I think he’s got to go to the places like, talking about Bain — why was he so successful at that, what did he love about Bain, what does he love about his church, what does he love about his family, and tell people about it in a way that makes him not seem like an android any more — that’s his problem — he’s like HAL 2000, he’s not human — he needs to be human.”
This has become one of the major focal points of my communications workshops — getting scientists (in particular) to grasp the difference between exposition (asserting “things in bullet point form” as Heileman puts it) versus storytelling (or “illustration” as he says — same thing). It comes down to the same old DON’T TELL US, SHOW US. Don’t give us a laundry list, tell us a story that illustrates what you’re talking about.
The bottom line of what he’s saying is that Mitt Romney is a scientist and should read the book, “Don’t Be Such a Scientist.” Although, of course, he isn’t a scientist given his ridiculing of sea level rise last night.