Today’s quote comes from a book that’s written for defense lawyers — those who defend the “bad guys” — big companies that don’t draw a lot of sympathy. They have a particular challenge when telling stories. As they say, “Nobody roots for Goliath.”
The guidelines from this book, Storytelling For The Defense, could apply to anyone who’s going up against a resistant audience. Today’s quote is:
“One of the key elements to successful storytelling that we have explored is the fundamental importance of understanding the needs of your audience. All too often in trials, attorneys think they are talking to people just like them, people with the same education, background, and expertise on a given case…When this happens, they lose the sense of the character of the audience that matters most — twelve people from very different backgrounds…who yearn to hear a couple of ideas conveyed in language that is clear and compelling …a story that makes sense and engages them.”
I could have used this idea for a presentation when I assumed I was talking to people like me — and like most of the people I know. (Not to worry – this is a story about stories — not football.)
I live in Philadelphia, a city with a football team that won the Super Bowl last year. Philly thinks of itself as an underdog city so this event had an enormous impact. Now we’re seeing banners everywhere with the team slogan, “Fly Eagles Fly.” Thousands of people have purchased green shirts with the number of their favorite player — someone who has been compared to a divinity on social media. (I kid you not.)
So I thought it was safe to tell a story based on a football metaphor, to a local, live, mostly-male audience.
They all looked back at me with completely blank stares. Turned out they were techies who might follow soccer…if their kids played. At least half weren’t aware there had been a Super Bowl, let alone who won. You can be sure I won’t make assumptions about my audience next time.
If you’d like me to work with you on telling the story that’s best suited to your brand … let’s talk! Here’s the link to my most popular consultation – the Story Consultation, customized for your needs.