Cramming too much into a story?



Sometimes we just want to tell too much! We do…we want to cram so much into one little story. If we have to create a 30 second video/tv spot, we cram as many words into the voice over as possible. Why…because we do not know how to keep it simple and put in terms of the audience. We are so worried we are not going to say everything we need to say, and our audience is going to miss the point. Oh yeah…maybe we are missing the point?

Storytelling is a craft…it is an art…it is stepping inside of the audience’s mind and seeing their perceptions and realities.

Let’s take a resume for just a quick second. How long is your resume? Is it one, two…three, five pages? We cram every little accolade, honor, and simple nothings that do not mean a hill of beans…except we can beat our chest and feel a little more closer to our ego. What is a resume? I think it is just a guide, and reference tool. I have yet to get a job based on my resume…seriously! ¬†You know why, because every resume looks just a like. Hell, there are people inflating that resume just a bit….pushing the limits to make ourselves seem special.

That resume is really a document that allows us to organize our thoughts and prepare us for an interview. It is a conversation piece, a study guide for the interview. Heck, it really is just a reference document when filling out a job application. But, why do we cram it full of stuff that means nothing.

We have a chance to tell a story…a real story.

Let’s take this little video from Apple. The new MacBook Air. By the way, my wife is dying to get one!

After watching this tv spot just one time, she understood everything she needed to know to make a purchasing decision. It is thin, sleek, and powerful. Did you see Apple craming a bunch of information about this little computer into 30 seconds? NO! They could have told you the dimensions, the processing power, the fact it has a solid state hard drive, or even abut that Intel processor inside. Nope…just a happy little tune and these two fingers pinching it and holding it up in the air. Enough said. Apple told a story…well actually a teaser. They told us enough to make the wife and I to get into the car, drive 40 miles to the Apple store so we could see if it was real.

It is not about cramming all the information into one piece of communication…it is about telling a story that engages the audience to see the message through your eyes. My students always ask me…how long should my paper be for this assignment? I tell them…it is not about length, it is about you telling me your story in way that I can see the whole argument (beginning, middle, and end) through your eyes. Whether it is one paragraph or a hundred paragraphs, as long as you tell the story.