What is it with speakers and writers that every one of their characters (at least the ones that matter) has to die or has to have a near-death experience? And I’ve heard and evaluated a fair share of speeches by wannabe speakers, trainers and leaders with the same (almost) pattern. Beats me!
No, I’m not insensitive to personal tragedies. They’re a part and parcel of one’s life. Some of them are powerful enough to move a personal from a mediocre existence to a radical change. But I’ll be the first in line to say that a tragedy is simply an option! You can find motivation or get inspiration to change from anyone! Nobody has to die.
I was reading a recently launched book by one of my favourite authors and leaders I greatly admire and respect. Someone died at the end of the fourth page. I remember thinking, “what the hell?” Now, I wouldn’t have said that if I’d known it’s a true story. It wasn’t, hence my reaction. And while I gained a heck of a lot from the book, I still think the plot could have been better.
That said, I still love and respect the author. My contention I guess is more towards folks who try way too hard to “make an impact” or “impress the audience” when they clearly don’t have any else of value to add. That peeves me to the core!
I believe making an impact as a presenters/speakers, writers (in the self-help genre) or a storytellers (I see lots of corporates hiring professional raconteurs) doesn’t have to be forced. You don’t have to kill someone in the story to make a point. Especially, if it’s a story that is made up.
When it comes to making a point, I think subtle is better because it’s what lingers after the show is all over. And that’s precisely what you would want. In an era where we pay a premium for content, we can’t afford to tell stories (for cheap thrills and tears) that are high on drama and low on value. Or perhaps, high on value and higher on drama!
How is this story adding value to the audience? Would it rouse the audience to take action? Or perhaps move them to a better place than they are right now? Would it be possible to create an impact without overcomplicating the story? These are powerful questions for anyone developing a keynote, speech or an outline for their next best seller.
Drama is optional. We’ve got enough of it in our lives.