Archive for Annie Hart

Creative Communications Requires Out of the Box Thinking

Annie Hart

By Annie Hart

[tweetmeme]Or else what?

Or else be left behind in the dust.  These days we can no longer afford to poo-poo creativity.  Time is ticking and creativity is the wave of the present and the future.

Those who are still thinking in the past will be left behind in the un-creative dust.

So you do want to be on the wave of the future, don’t you?  I’m sure you do.

Being creative in your communications requires thinking outside of the box.  Communications is a wide field of expression – everything from print media to video, to public speaking, to billboards.

It is everywhere we go and in today’s fast paced world, we need to use our creative brains to keep up with the pace.

It can at first seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to, because using your creative brain is actually enjoyable and energy saving.  It’s your old, stuck-in-the-rut left brain that’s getting in the way.

So who is this old brain that keeps you doing the same old same old?  I affectionately call him Mr. Lizard and he loves doing the same things over and over again.

Mr. Lizard is the master of repetition, but needs to learn some creativity.

Ban your lizard brain

Why?  Because he HATES change.  He hates being original and he does not want to stand out in the crowd.  He enjoys being one of the boring pack.

But do you?

Do you really enjoy expressing yourself like everyone else?  I doubt it.  You might be used to doing that but it’s probably not what you really want.

Try this test – if you’re tired or bored with what you’re putting out in your communications, then it’s a likelihood that you’re relying too much on your old lizard brain (cousin to your left brain).

Mr. Lizard doesn’t mean to but he enjoys keeping you stuck.  So you’ve got to override his ideas and try something different.  That’s what creativity really is – it’s the art and science of doing things differently.

Originality is creativity’s middle name.

Thinking outside the box means trying things that you haven’t tried before.  And often, those that are most successful, come up with something that at first seems totally ridiculous!

What's your purple cow?

Think of Seth Godin’s purple cow.  Silly right?

Silly but effective.  Imagine yourself putting a big purple cow on your website, business card or brochure.  You’re probably cringing right?

Well I’m not suggesting that YOU put a purple cow on anything.  That was Seth’s original idea.  But I am suggesting that you take risks like he does and think outside of the routine.

Here are some ideas to get you started, but feel free to improvise:

  1. Think in color, that was part of the purple cow’s effectiveness, it catches our eye and is interesting and different.
  2. Think “difference” – take a look at something that you’ve done and ask yourself, “What could be different about this?”  One small change often makes a big difference.
  3. If you really want to go out on an edge, and I suggest you do, then ask yourself, “What is the last thing that I’d want to do?”  You can decide whether you want to do that or not, but at least you’ve gotten yourself to think way outside of your usual box.

That’s the idea.  Stirring up your creativity is good for you and good for the world, because no one wants to read or engage in your boring, ordinary communications.  They just don’t, so don’t kid yourself about it.

People today, especially the younger generation, like things snappy, quick and interesting and so do you if you’re honest with yourself.

Sometimes we’re afraid to make change, try something different and live outside the box.  But that is old Mr. Lizard again asserting himself when he should be off taking a nap.

Today wake up Mr. Lizard and try something new.  You will be glad you did.

Creativity in communications is everything.  It is the wave of the future and I know you want to be on that wave.

Don’t you?

Annie Hart believes that Stories Change the World and she has brought her work to the fields of Business, Education, Healthcare, Non-Profit, Youth at Risk & Community Organizations.  She can be found passionately sharing stories and tools of change on her blog and popular Radio 42 show.

How Obama’s Story Telling May Shift the Conversation on Health Care

The debate on health care has reached a fever pitch with both sides — those for and against it – dug in for the fight.  Until now, President Obama, the most cerebral of presidents, has used the logic of his argument to try to communicate to the American people the details of his health plan.  But it hasn’t been working.

So, in a town-hall-style meeting in Colorado over the weekend, he reverted to the oldest form of communication on earth – story telling.  As my friend and fellow blogger Annie Hart in says in her blog Stories Change the World, “Storytelling is the oldest, most powerful form of communication on the planet. Stories create powerful images that inspire us to think and act in new ways. By harnessing the power of story, you hold the power of creation in your hands.”

In his entreaties to the crowd, the President talked about his own grandmother to push back against unsubstantiated claims that his plan would deny care to elderly parents.  “I just lost my grandmother last year.  I know what it’s like to watch somebody you love who’s aging deteriorate, and have to struggle with that.”  He vigorously denied that the notion that members of congress who have to vote on health care legislation would pull the plug on the elderly.

Story telling appeals to our emotions.  And Obama made a direct appeal to the emotions of his listeners – could anyone believe the government would deny care to grannie?

That’s what reporters want to hear – stories with a middle, beginning and end.  As writing becomes more informal, a direct result of the internet, even news stories look more and more like feature stories.  The old shibboleth of starting a news story with the traditional “who, what, where when and why” has given way to stories that begin “American military women have changed the way the U.S. goes to war and they have done so without the disruption of discipline and unit cohesion that some feared.” (NY Times). This is the beginning of a story, and you want to hear more.

Or, “Khalid Khan’s small construction firm (in Afghanistan) was supposed to build a road here that would open his strife-scarred land to commerce and improve its prospects for peace. Instead he wound up in the hands of the Taliban, hanging upside down.” (WSJ).  You definitely want to know what happened to him.

Have you noticed when you are watching local TV, a reporter covering an accident will begin an interview with the question, “What happened?”  Then a bystander will tell the story, “I was sitting on my stoop when all of a sudden I heard a loud crash. I looked over and saw two cars.  They were a wreck.  I ran to the scene of the accident and with help from other people I tried desperately to pull the passengers from the cars before there was an explosion, but I couldn’t get them out.  I was never so scared in my life.”   Here is a neat little story with a beginning: the crash.  A middle:  he ran to scene but couldn’t get them out.  An ending: he was scared to death.

So, the next time you are trying to get a response from a friend, or a customer, try telling a story.  Involve them.  Tug at their emotions.  It often works as you engage your friend in a story that you both create.