No Anecdotes, Please

A colleague, a subject matter expert in my firm, has been asked to present at an upcoming industry gathering. When asked about their presentation guidelines, the organization was very clear they wanted the presentation to be factual and straightforward. The presentation should “contain as few anecdotes as possible,” they advised.

This colleague and I talk quite a bit about instruction, and he knows I believe in the value of narratives and narrative structures, which is why he brought this to my attention. At the same time, he’s not unsympathetic with the guidelines. He wants “just the facts,” so he can decide for himself what’s important and how the pieces fit the bigger puzzle.

I look at this as potentially a novice/expert discrepancy. Experts aren’t as dependent on brain-friendly structures like stories because they already have a rich schema for organizing information. So, while a dry, fact-heavy presentation might not be in line with my typical recommendations for presenting, if a high SME is presenting to other high SMEs, it might be the most efficient way to transfer information.

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One thought on “No Anecdotes, Please

  1. Epiphany

    I’d agree with this… The stories become “fluff” when the user is already super engaged and simply needs to extract key info so they can proceed with their own agenda. It’s like selling sweaters to people in wool coats.

    Reply

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