Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Did you know every college has a party street?

I was in Tucson last week, getting directions from one big box retail store to another big box retail store in order to pick up some last minute gear I needed for a video shoot, and I realized that familiarity can breed a certain kind of blindness. The clerk helping me could not for the life of him remember the names of the streets I needed to take and ended up having to stand next to me and draw out the map of the right while verbally describing the route. And I'll tell you, he was dead on and as I drove through the stretches and turns laid out for me on that piece of paper I could almost feel the clerk's muscle memory deep within my tissues helping me to follow the route as if I'd driven it for years.

It made me think though. If the story that clerk told me -- the directions -- was so realistic and compelling when he was simply sketching it out and narrating it as best he could, how much more powerful and precise could it have been if he'd drawn me a detailed map outlining each and every minute step on that piece of paper? My guess? Maybe not as powerful. His words filled in the picture, so the storytelling was there, so he didn't have to waste my time or distract me with a complicated visual. I wish more people that put PowerPoint presentations together would learn that simple lesson.

Tell me a great story, pare down the distractions while doing so, and your point will be indelibly made.

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