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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Tell Me, then Tell Me Again

Image result for repetitionKnow your audience or you risk making them feel stupid.  Or maybe that's just me.  I scroll through LinkedIn or Twitter, sometimes Facebook and come across articles and taglines that just don't make any sense to me.   Either re-reading it a couple of times or skipping it altogether, I scroll on by because I just didn't get it.  I used to think that I was the problem, just not "getting it."  ... and well, that may still be the case sometimes, but more often it's because writers - or social media posters - throw something out there using all the collected and built-in shorthand they automatically translate in their brain.  Your audience may not know the acronyms or slang or shorthand, and when they don't - you lose them very quickly in a sea of information.  In some situations, that may be just fine - if they don't know the jargon then this article or informative tidbit just isn't for them.  Still, you lose a potential contact, audience member, opportunity, or whatnot because they strolled (scrolled) on by.

I'm guilty of this- I know I rush through my writing and thoughts, and especially storytelling.  Most of the time I worry about boring the person with too many details or fear they just aren't that interested.  But now, I think I've just been shortchanging my ideas.  Self-consciously speeding through a point I want to convey limits the potential that my audience will grasp it.
The most powerful pieces of communication state a fact or idea; back it up with a story, rephrase the same idea, toss in some humor; and likely rehash the main idea again.  This is how something sticks!   

Last Sunday my pastor's daughter gave the sermon.  Her topic was Love, simply biblical love is not a feeling but a choice of action.  There, I said it in a single sentence.  She spoke for almost an hour and showed a video clip, but she wasn't repetitive, but rather expansive.  Most importantly - I remember the lesson.  It stuck!

It takes patience to effectively expand on an idea; to extend the explanation of terms and ideas and creatively explain yourself without saying the same thing over and over again.

I read, er well listened to, an entire book on the "5 Second Rule."  This rule can be summed as a countdown trick to propel yourself into action as soon as a thought or cosmic 'nudge' enters your brain - remove overthinking and hesitation by counting down 5-4-3-2-1 and then act upon the thought.  It's rather simple - but application in daily life is varied and challenging.  In her book, Mel Robbins shared anecdotes from her life and others in how they used this rule in their lives.  Mel expanded on how tactically using this rule leads to major life changes and improvements.  She didn't call it the "butterfly effect" but described it as such.  Going into the book, I first thought "how many different ways can she say the same thing?"  But by the end of the book, I'm a believer in this tool to really help one (me!) improve in life and not waste it away with hesitation.   (Ha, hence this essay, actually!)

If either presenter succinctly stated their concept in a single sentence and expected the audience to hear it, understand it, and feel the life affecting impact - they would have been disappointed.  Something familiar to you is colored by experience, history, repetition and usually personal application.  The consumers of your idea, your audience, won't approach your content the same way and can then easily miss your point.  Missing the point could be interpreted by someone as
"I'm stupid for not getting this - speaker Joe said it so simply"
"they don't know what they're talking about, that's too cliche to hold water"
or even
"I don't get it and so I just don't really care."
Either way, you miss your mark and lose the opportunity to make an impact.

Giving too much detail and working in too much repetition could weed out those who aren't super interested in your topic, and that is OK.  Whatever it is, it's not for them.  Those who care to know, will wade through the detail or fall asleep trying.

Did I make my point... did you get it?  I hope so... but... ok, one more example!

This guy laments that music today isn't appreciated.  The crux of his argument is that it's so easily made and then consumed that people do not spend the time listening to a song over and over to appreciate the complexities and understand the lyrics.  We tend to listen to the first few beats of a song then skip to the next. The magic and meaning is lost.
Repetition and ample time for our brains to unpack ideas and lyrics are what give meaning to a concept.  

Tell me, then tell me about it one more time!

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