September 20, 2010

Synaptic Sandbags

The hardest part to sharing an engaging story is to find the proper balance of details. If you share too many details, your listener gets distracted, and perhaps loses an understanding of your plot. If you get sidetracked and share an abundance of inconsequential details, you may find yourself confused, and lose sense of both the path and the message of your story.

Think of the details of your story as synaptic sandbags. If you are sharing your story strategically, that is, as a tool for helping your listener better understand and engage with specific information, then you want your story to trigger select experiences and memories for your listener. The details you choose to share are the sandbags that help create a path of discovery in your listener’s brain: too few sandbags, and you risk tributaries, or your story being washed away. Too many sandbags, and you dam up your information, restricting the path that your listener needs to take through connections in their own mind, in order to join you at the close of your story.

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