The many and varied ways to communicate story

I have taken a few minutes away from a piece of work I am doing for the Show Me The Change (SMTC) conference which happened in Melbourne recently.That piece of work in progress is called “The Story of Show Me The Change” can be seen here.

One my roles in the SMTC design and facilitation team has been to communicate stories. We have created slideshows, written blog posts and utilised the Twitter-sphere. All the while, keeping focused on a few operating principles like these:

  1. If you are not having a conversation or telling a story … then you are not communicating!
  2. MAKE IT STICKY: We are all visual beings and pictures, when combined with a narrative, increase our ability to remember drastically
  3. MAKE IT SLIPPERY: When ‘producing’ a story or content for others to ‘consume’ … make your story as ‘share-able’ as possible
  4. Bullet Points in emails, slides will kill-off everything they touch – and as I write this I am noticing how I am doing just that in this list ;-(
  5. LEARNING FROM BRAIN SCIENCES: Pictures also bring to our messages an emotional edge that results in ‘Ah-ha’ reactions
  6. If you need a website for anything … make it a blog or a wiki!
  7. If you run a meeting, conference or gathering where sharing the story is important … always engage an artist, graphic facilitator or better still a cartoonist like this guy …

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Simon Kneebone, cartoonist, in action at Show Me The Change

Let me provide some examples of the work that I have been doing with Viv McWaters as part of the Show Me The Change Conference …

Our online INVITATION to entice people into asking more about this conference. The topic of Show Me The Change was “Evaluating Behaviour Change in Complex Contexts”. Wow! How sexy is that for a topic? Well, we thought it needed some work and as 1 small part of the invitation process Viv and I produced this slideshow over at Slideshare and embedded it on the About page of the conference site.

Our Approach to the Conference Design

Now this slideshow took a lot of time! The first step saw Viv and I conjure up a story from the work and conversations happening within the deign team and with the conference steering committee.

Once the narrative took shape, I immersed myself in the story for about a week or 2. During that time I’d have ideas for pictures and images that would just ‘come to me’ when doing other things – some of my clearest ideas come from time spent taking our dogs for a walk on th beach.

In this slideshow a theme emerged from the Greek symbol for CHANGE (Delta). Around that colors and a pattern of drawings on my tablet emerged.

The Story of Show Me The Change

Now this effort to produce and share a story took even longer than ‘Our Approach’ – in fact it is still a work in progress. The process was complicated by the death of my pen-tablet and an inability of Telstra to maintain a working ADSL2+ connection! This made the video uploading process to YouTube a nightmare.

Here’s a snapshot of my Mac’s desktop … littered with many of the images I drew in Corel using my Pen Tablet. It was hard enough to keep track of all the different photo and video files that produced this very loengthy blog post.

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Here’s the link to The Story of Show Me The Change (way too long to embed it here) and here’s a few random images used to bring the whole story together …

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‘I hear the drums Fernando …”

I can already hear some people saying … “What a waste of time!”. The same poeple ask me … “So how do you find time to blog and tweet?”.

My answer is … ‘Because I love doing it, I’ve got some flair for it and let’s face it, the world needs to fnd new ways of communicating the stories that matter.

My sources of inspiration this work

If you are wondering who shapes and inspires me, here are my favourite visual communicators …

Nancy White for her graphic facilitation …
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Franke James for her online essays

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Garr Reynolds for his design thinking and slideshows …

View more presentations from garr.

The crew at the RSA.org for these amazing videos and artwork …

Comments

  1. […] Geoff Brown put up a formidable blog post capturing the whole process of our recent designing, planning and facilitating a conference in Melbourne.  If you are interested in multiple ways of learning and understanding process as well as ways of telling a story, set aside some time and go dive into what he has written.  As one who was there, all I can say is, bang on, mate! […]

  2. GeoffBrown says:

    Thanks Chris. One of the things I notice about designing a story to be shared with the world, is the space that we enter. These stories emerge over time and mysterious stuff happens when doing other things – like last night in the dojo when our Shihan shared his own story of holding space.

    Drawing pictures and finding images helps me to go deeper and use metaphor. We all know the power of this when working with groups … it’s nice to apply it to our own thinking and storytelling

    Your end of event poems that you blogged about recently are a classic example of what I am saying here.
    Geoff

  3. Nancy White says:

    Chris is RIGHT (as usual). What a JUICY post. And I’m deeply touched to be part of your inspiration. It is MUTUAL, my friend!

  4. Geoff Brown says:

    Thanks for your words Nancy! Looking forward to connecting with you in person one of these days. Geoff

  5. […] a recent example, see my mate Geoff Brown’s harvest of work we did together in May in Australia. September 7, 2010 | In Invitation | No […]

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