Effective Communication: “Show, Don’t Tell”
One of the absolute first (and oldest) rules of communicating is, “Show, don’t tell.” Don’t tell your reader or listener what to feel (e.g. happy, sad, fear). Instead, tell them stories that help them feel the effect you’re after. Here are some examples.
- DON’T say, “Let me tell you a funny story.” DO tell a funny story that makes people laugh. Basically, tell your story and let your audience decide whether or not it’s funny!
- DON’T say, “He was humble.” DO describe a man in a way that makes your listener or reader think, “Wow, he’s really humble!”
- DON’T say, “Let me tell you a really great story.” DO tell your story with such care that your listener or reader thinks, “Wow, that’s a really great story!”
- DON’T say, “He was afraid.” DO say, “John was jolted from his sleep. Someone was trying to pry open the door to his hotel room. He tried to get out of bed but his legs wouldn’t move.”
The more you “show,” the greater the emotional response. So stretch it out a little to build suspense. For example, “At first John thought he was just having a bad dream. But suddenly his senses sprang to full alert. Someone was trying to pry open the door to his hotel room! He went into attack mode, but his legs went numb like after a near miss car accident.”
The goal? We want to engage our listeners and readers so they are “right there” with us.
Together in the battle for men’s souls,