I co-hosted a networking event tonight, and was delighted to see some new faces. Of course, every time you introduce yourself to someone new (at a networking event, at any rate), you have to hold the obligatory “What do you do?” conversation.
And tonight, someone found what I do interesting enough to lead to follow up questions. Which led us down this path – what I do, nearly every day, is take tons of information and cut out all the bad stuff until a story emerges. (Just to be clear, several people at Solstice do this, not only me.)
Now, it’s not only bad stuff that gets cut. Yes, cut the bad stuff first, of course, the off camera interviewer questions, the ums, non starters, mistakes, jokes, the obvious bullshit. But plenty of good stuff has to get cut as well. An average project starts with over an hour of interviews, has at least 15 minutes of good stuff, and ends up at 5 minutes or less. Overwhelming? You bet it is. So how best to approach it?
Any good story really is just about one thing. “The Northside is the obvious choice for the NGA because it sits in the center of the next big innovation hub in the country.” “Cured In Place Piping is a simple, non-destructive method for repairing aging pipes.” “SCI Engineering tackles the issues that other engineers simply don’t want to deal with.” (spoiler alert! Tune in next month).
Once you’ve cut out the bad stuff, you have to really look hard at your good stuff. Does it support that one central thing that my story is about? Does it move my story forward? Will it evoke the desired response in my audience?
And then, you arrange the good stuff into a dialogue. Great soundbite, no place for it in my dialogue? Cut it! There’s a hole in my story construct? Back to look through the junk pile, what can I salvage if I just trim here and re-arrange there?
And I love it. Once you’ve sifted through a pile of 20 pages of quotes, and emerged with a tight, 1-2 page story that moves and emotes. Ah, smell that bacon. That’s what this is all about.