Monday, February 6, 2012

How to Engage Better in 2012.

You want people to:

• Do something?
• Feel something?
• Remember something?

Tell ‘em a story.

Because stories are the currency of human contact. They’re how we connect with people, ideally at the edge of their seats, breathlessly waiting to hear what happens next in the story.

Think about it. From cave dwellers’ drawings to Bollywood’s latest blockbuster, we humans’re hardwired for stories.

That lesson solidified for me recently when I sojourned to a seminar by a master storyteller Robert McKee. It was part of extrovertic’s Conference Attendance Program (our firm encourages each of us to venture out, and absorb then share interesting ideas so we can all benefit).

What’d I learn? Stories’re a healthy way to convey the emotions and conflicts in the healthcare world to:

• Our agency partners
• Clients

The hard part? Those prickly problems that’re particular to pharmaceutical marketing. Specifically, keeping the story honest, medically accurate, legally legit, and on point.

Speaking of which, here are 3 pointers to help you keep your story on point, even if you’re not writing healthcare copy like me:

1) Your story needs conflict. A story without conflict is not a story; it’s a sleep aid. Better have a defibrillator handy.

2) Your story has to manage expectations. The original ending of Fatal Attraction had the psychopathic woman (played by Glen Close) commit suicide. Research showed that audiences were angry – they wanted justice. Or, as the researcher said, “They didn’t want to see her done, they wanted to see her done unto.”

3) Your story can’t waste time, especially if it’s a joke. Like when the taxman visited the rabbi. He said,
“Is David Gold a member?”
“He is,” replied the rabbi.
“Does he attend?” asked the taxman.
“He does,” said the rabbi.
“Did he donate $10,000?”
“He will.”

Resolve to be more engaging in your presentations with a story. You may find that 2012 will have a happily-ever-after ending.


  1. Nice joke. I'll pass it along to a guy I know who used to be at the IRS, see if he knows it.

    And btw, Mr Copywriter, it's Glenn Close.

    - PJ

    1. Engage the IRS at your own peril, PJ.

      Thanks for the comment and yes, the 6-time Academy Award nominee does spell her first name Glenn. Appreciate your eagle-eye.