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April 18 Talk Puts ...

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I consider myself more of a writer than a talker (though my mom might disagree).

Still, I appreciate organizations periodically hoisting me up to a speaking pulpit to scrutinize and evangelize the wonders of storytelling in business. Such will be the case on April 18 when I’ll take on the topic of “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Storytelling,” thanks to the Silicon Valley chapter of IABC.

As a student of communications and language, I’ve come to realize that the classic story arc by itself often isn’t enough in the business world. It’s the techniques that come along for the storytelling ride — think word choice and imagery and anecdotes — that often have the biggest say in whether you capture a person’s attention or lose to a cat video.

I was reminded of this reading a recent New Yorker article on Uber. An ex-Uber employee didn’t just describe the experience as “riding a lit rocket.” While harrowing, riding a lit rocket doesn’t break new ground (have to go all the way back to 1964 and “Dr. Strangelove”).

 

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On the other hand, describing the Uber experience as “riding a lit rocket with your head out the window” says something entirely different, a mashup of fast, invigorating and scary.

Here’s the teaser for the talk on April 18.

As digital increasingly dominates our world, communicators rejoice. Social media. Corporate blogging. Websites. Online discovery. Thought leadership. Sponsored posts. All these approaches depend on content. We’re the content guys (and gals). We’re the ones who supposedly communicate with substance, not clever slogans. Communicators should be in the perfect position to capitalize.

Not so fast.

We say we get storytelling, but the output suggests otherwise. Too much “me, me, and here’s a little more about me.” Too many news releases crafted to suit the egos of internal stakeholders and not aligned with how journalists write. Consider one element that lifts any narrative, the anecdote. If you audited the content that falls under the business communications umbrella, what percent would be anecdotal? If you said 3 percent, I applaud your optimism.

This talk will explore the state of storytelling in communications, the opportunity in front of us and how the professional needs to change lest the spoils go — heaven forbid — to our advertising brethren.

The event takes place at Agilent in Santa Clara starting at 6 p.m.

You can find the Eventbrite page for registration here.

If you’re in the area and willing to tape the NBA playoffs, by all means mark it on your calendar.


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