Up In Smoke

Context is the Key to Effective Messaging

“Marijuana Issues Sent to A Joint Committee”

That was an actual headline from the Toronto Star newspaper. It wasn’t a joke but tell the truth. Did you conjure up a bunch of politicians getting toasted while sitting around an ornate and seriously smoke-filled hearing room?

OK – maybe it is just my warped recollection of the ‘70s but the point is that context matters. And context comes from the story. Context is critical because it tells the receiver, what importance to place on something, what assumptions to draw (or not) about what is being communicated, and most importantly, it puts meaning into the message

If the story you are telling your prospects and/or clients isn’t hitting home, odds are that it is missing context. To put the appropriate context into the conversation, you need a keen understanding of what very specific problem THEY are trying to solve, not what solution YOU have.

Silly headlines notwithstanding, how you craft the story you are telling is the secret to your success. In 35 years of writing professionally, I have seen some intelligent folks (like those at a certain Toronto newspaper) get it really, tragically wrong. You might say that their stories go up in smoke (sorry).

Storytelling is a craft with a very defined set of characteristics. If your stories aren’t resonating as they should, find a craftsman to help.

And please, order some pizzas for those Toronto legislators. I’ll bet they have a serious case of the munchies!


As seen on

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