Whatever story you have to tell, there will be a hundred different ways of telling it. It’s not just political spin doctors who cleverly find the most advantageous angle to a story; we all do it.
The first time you meet your partners’ parents you’ll be watching your manners. What version of your background story do you tell? You don’t need to resort to focus groups to work out that you should find out a little about what your prospective parents-in-law are interested in and tailor your story accordingly. You can save your dubious tales of student glory days for another occasion.
Newspapers are great exponents of this. They have to know their readers, and respond to their interests, to survive. In the video I tell the story how of a school newspaper found the right headline for a story about the visit of the mayor only when the interests of the children – the readers – was considered. Another, more recent example of this is the Ayrshire News’ take on Donald Trump losing the Whitehouse: “South Ayrshire Golf club owner loses 2020 presidential election”
What about your next presentation? If it’s to shareholders, they will want to know about their investment, their dividend, and how investing in your company reflects upon them.
If you’re speaking to customers, by all means talk about the developments within your company, but they will only be moved by how they benefit from those developments.
Steve Jobs was obsessively focused on the interests of his audience in his famous product launch presentations. He could have spent the launch of the iPod rhapsodising about the technical advancements it represented. Instead, he thought about what would resonate most strongly with his audience. The iPod was, he said “A thousand songs in your pocket.” That became the New York Times headline the following morning. Job done.
What’s most important about your story? The audience.
It’s a question of empathy. You could also call it good manners.