Home Forums Circularity MIKE STRAUSS: Session 8 chat Questions

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      Marissa: However, I do like the way it feels optimistic with the current “but”

      But step back from this and put yourself in the position of someone with no prior experience with this or narrative. What is the problem/conflict that gives you that sense of urgency…that makes you want to know what they did? Making the ‘but’ another positive comment leaves the reader thinking “is there a ‘but’ coming?” There is no issue/problem to solve or address. So why read on? Think back to that comic sketch Randy showed at the beginning. Weren’t you just a little let down that there wasn’t a ‘but’?

      A Thought on Jargon

      The point is HOW you use jargon. If you throw it out as something your audience must know to understand your narrative then you’re asking them to stop and look it up. But if you, for example, say that we need to know X to understand Y and that [insert jargon] enables us to understand the extent and importance of X, then you’ve used jargon but not forced the reader to stop and read up on what it means…because you’ve told them the most important thing…that it answers your problem. You can then go on later to explain how it does that. Similarly, defining a half dozen acronyms in a short paragraph forces your reader to stop following the narrative and learn the acronyms. It’s not bad to use jargon or acronyms, but it comes back to the point Randy has made several times…that you need to use them in a way that advances the narrative (or, I would add, stops your reader in order to learn what they mean). This is why Randy for one case said don’t worry about jargon but with a later abstract said part of the problem was they lead with jargon. Hence Randy’s “…use jargon but in a narrative way.”

      mcollier: Yes, I always refer to cascading effects as falling dominoes when writing with the public in mind

      Excellent! It is an easy illustration that says LOTS about the inevitability of a cascade and that it can begin with a small act…but you don’t have to explain it!

      Dean: Could this be a graduate-level structure: AND BUT THEREFORE BUT THEREFORE…

      It’s a thumbnail version of what in Houston: We Have A Narrative is called the Logline…and is at the core of the Heroes’ Journey.


      Julie: I find this “fight” to state things simple so fascinating.  Medical doctors and scientist need their egos’ + confidence to succeed – but when communicating (or talking) with outer circle, do ego’s get in the way?

      Julie, I have no idea what you are talking about. In all my career I have never seen even the slightest shred of professional ego from any scientist or MD (and if you believe that I have a bridge for you). Short answer: yup!

      Allyson: Do you recommend using ABT in press releases? Any good examples out there?

      I don’t have immediate access to examples but YES! If you want to be sure that the media gets your story correctly you NEED to give them the narrative you want. It’s not a given that they won’t go a different direction but you’ve made putting your information into a story MUCH easier. One of our early graduates of Story Circles had a major paper and he structured the press release for it as an ABT and the stories that emerged in papers around the world reflected his narrative. Another good use of it is to coach scientists who are about to be interviewed to have several short ABT responses in mind for likely questions. Again, if you make it easy for a reporter it’s more likely that they’ll repeat your message. Many years ago I was interviewed by a newspaper science reporter about a major study on which I worked. But I rambled and shortly into the interview he said, “Look, here’s what I want to say that you told me.” He read a sentence with which I did not agree…but I gave him no alternative. So the next morning, his sentence is what I “said.” Yes it was dishonest, but the point here is that I let him control the narrative.

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