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Tell, Write or Show... How do you get your point across?

A difference between traditional writers (virtually all on WF) and what I am loath to call professional writers includes what happens to what we write. It is rare to ask an 'author' to read what they write to others. Yes, there are audio books, but I'm talking about presenting.

A writer of material that is presented, and later appreciated at leisure, has totally different rules about almost all they write. Most times, there is a limit put on the work up front, like "You have 30 minutes with them-make it good!". So what might be great in an hour or two has to somehow be great in 30 minutes. To do this, I always remember the three ways people absorb information (of any kind):

1. "Just tell me what you're thinking of doing"

They won't be spending a minute thinking about what you're trying to do after this meeting. This is 'old school', where I just interrupt you with questions, and at the end I announce the decision. With everything verbal, they are prone to convenient lapses of memory when things get sticky down the road, so you had better back up one of these presentations with an email detailing what they were told and agreed to.

2. "Give it to me in writing, and I'll let you know later"

They won't even give you a chance to field questions. These are the poker players that don't want to give you anything to work with. You give an overview of what is in the proposal/report, and if you try to ask for questions that derail you with, "We'll let you know if we have any questions after we've gone over this in detail."

3. "Just show me"

The Common Denominator. Even if you are one of the above, you are also a visual information gatherer-you can't help it. So when I present what I have written, it is critical to turn the words into compelling graphics, animations, dry board, sock puppets, anything that visually drives home the main points.

For those that want things explained to them, I ask for a follow-up meeting to do just that (no time after my presentation of the written piece). For those that say they want everything in writing, I give them the written version at the end. At least for them I have made sure that what they read without the benefit of my presence won't be misinterpreted as much.

So what we call presentation is simply acting out what was written, if you like. But why does this work? In fiction, the reader forms your world in their head. In that world, they act out the script you gave them. They can also gain much from watching it as a movie or play, but long form writing allows for the time needed for inner dialogue and explaining things like environment. Reading this kind of writing is best done when one takes their time. But remember from above, time is the one thing we're seldom given as presenters of our writing.

This limit is actually not crippling. In fact, those like me that thrive in this genre see it as a way so squeeze creativity out of you. You have to set things up, bring your 'readers' in, compel them to agree with how you solved or reacted to the circumstances, and agree to move forward with whatever it is.

So you could say that the parallels are that both traditional and professional genres seek to draw the reader in, and make them want to continue the journey. To learn more, get more questions answered, and move their understanding forward are common, honorable goals. We just do it in different circumstances-one bound by time, and the other bound by imagination.

So how do YOU present your ideas, concepts, stories, directives, objections, and thoughts?



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Yumi Koizumi
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