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Choosing the Right Words

Two thousand years ago, Aristotle, identified a pattern and created a formula or template for what he felt was the perfect story.  He broke down storytelling into three distinct parts:

  1. Ethos is Greek for Credibility, which constitutes 30%.
  2. Pathos is Greek for emotions, which constitutes 50%
  3. Logos is Greek for logic, which constitutes 20%.

Today, we cover the topic of logic; however, Aristotle’s definition of logic is quite different from today’s definition.  Logic originally meant: “The Word” or “what is spoken.”  The choice of words in a story are very important, it is part of the reasoning support that creates a relationship.

As an Educator\Director, I’m often asked why Shakespeare’s language is so hard to understand?  To answer that I must remind people that the stories are 500 years old.  Words over the centuries have changed meaning.  Shakespeare’s words are well chosen and logical, but the presentation has changed from descriptive words to today’s short sound bites.

According to Aristotle, words identifying emotions are 50% of a strategic story.  In lab brainimagingexperiments speakers and listeners have their brain activity monitored.  When a speaker tells a story regarding an emotional event, his brain lights up parts of the brain (sensory, motor, memory, emotions, etc.)   Interesting enough the brains of the subjects listening likewise light up in tandem meaning—everyone is on the same page!

If the dopamine and Oxytocin are activated (see The Perfect Story) then credibility can be established, because there is trust and mutual emotional understanding.

This brings us now to the logic.  The words chosen are only part of storytelling.  Words must be chosen carefully to convey the emotional state the speaker is trying to establish.  How words are also spoken can be more important than the word itself.  This I learned while taking professional classes in Shakespeare language delivery.

Body language, hand gestures, facial expressions, voice tones and presentation are all part of the Strategic Storytelling system.  As we journey together, I will be adding and teaching more on this.  I’ve also been asked to create videos, which I’m in progress doing now.

Dodge&MLK

Just a week ago, Super Bowl 51, played out, and like most people watching the game they were also watching the commercials.  Images, words, and music are well chosen since these commercials cost their sponsors $5 million dollars for 30 seconds.  The one commercial that received an immediate negative response was from the Dodge commercial using in its background the words of Dr. Martin Luther King.  Twitter went hot as negative reaction to using Dr. Kings words to sell a car.  The words were good, the emotion established, but establishing the relationship—well let’s just say the Chrysler marketing team fumbled on their credibility, which is 30% of their story.

I write my blog with a maximum of 500 words.  This would take about 3.5 minutes to read out loud.  I am also interested to connect with you to answer your questions on how to develop your own Strategic Story presentation.

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