Home Forums Circularity MIKE STRAUSS: Chat Comments, Session 4

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      Michael Strauss


      Fascinating session. For me the most interesting note was when Randy explained how your “A” and “B” should lead the reader to wanting to know the answer in the “T.” This is part rules and a LARGE part an art that is learned by doing. The set-up is just that…a set up of the issue you are addressing. What is the central argument of your piece? The A should begin to set that up…not just list a few random facts…remember the SNL piece from the first session? “Is there a “but” here?” You want the reader to be thinking ahead of you wanting to know what the conflict/issue is…why things won’t work, what is the barrier, what is needed? Now they’re ready to listen to your solution…but even there be sure you focus on the solution to the issue you raised. 


      Tim: Narrative is the sequence of events that occur in the special world — which is entered through a problem and exited through a solution

      Almost…but you need the set-up which occurs in the Ordinary World. Lots of science talks begin with “We set up this experiment in this way…” That’s jumping into the Special World without telling me anything about where you started or why…you miss the “why should I care.”

      Evelyn: Past, Present and Future sounds like a good framework for elevator speeches

      Cara: I think the ABT is very useful for elevator speeches 

      Only if you can keep it from being a list of what you did in the past, what you’re doing now, and what you’ll do in the future. Instead of “here is a situation, here is the problem, and here’s what I’m doing to solve it.”

      Julie Claussen For NGO’s, interesting to shift thinking of not being the Hero (we can save the world)…

      Cara: I am would be curious how many companies followed this advice of changing the “Hero” of the brand to the audience instead of it being the company?

      Dean: Perhaps it’s important that the BUT is limited to stating the crisis situation, where all facts and “things” are in the AND, preceding the BUT.

      So, across all of our disciplines — are our audiences the hero? And we (organizations) the mentor?

      Not necessarily. Depends on your audience and what you want to say. It’s very powerful in branding, however.


      Tanya: What if people think sharing the trying times is ‘unprofessional’??

      Tad: That was a great question, because “sounding professional” is the antithesis of an interesting narrative.

      I think a good narrative makes you sound more professional because it demonstrates a strong command of the subject…


      Robert: Evelyn, maybe a 2:1:3 ratio for A:B:T addresses your point

      Don’t fall into the trap of setting up a mathematical “boundary.” These are principles but the application of them is a learned “art.” So my usual answer to “How long should an A, B, or T be is “long enough but not so long that you bore the reader.”

      Liz Foote there’s some great psych research on how you NEED to include “what you can do” SPECIFIC actions if you’re using the “doom & gloom” messaging. I’ll post a resource in the narrative knowledge section

      One of the most memorable symposia I attended as a grad student was by a geneticist who quickly got through the A and B or a problem and launched into a description of the experiment that was the T…only to reveal at the end that it was a total failure for reasons they had not anticipated. By then we were all anxious to hear how they were able to overcome the problem (their “darkest hour”). Showing a failure is an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think creatively and push through to a solution.


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