To ABC or not to ABC05 August 2009

Top of the Crocs:ABC

Here’s a good example of ABC storytelling (or Anecdote-Based Communication to give it its Sunday name). My main page has a quick tutorial to help you reproduce the effect.

I once worked with an investment expert who told the following story:

Albert Einstein (a very credible character who lends weight to the argument) once theorised about an infinite number of monkeys typing on an infinite number of typewriters. Eventually, he said, one of them would type out the soliloquy from Shakespeare’s play Hamlet. But as you can imagine, it would take a very long time before this happened…

Quite a picture, eh? When I tell this tale I sometimes present Einstein himself reading out sheets from some of the monkeys’ typewriters:
“Mix.. Yez.. Pittel.. ick – no good!” says the 20th Century’s greatest thinker.
“Ord.. Fard.. Nord.. Glock – no good either,” he says.
“Wait!” he cries triumphantly, “Listen to this: To be or not to be, that is the – Mix Yez Pittel ick – damn!”
This gives an unexpected twist to the tale so it occasionally gets a laugh.

Then, having established his narrative with an interesting scenario and credible characters (except for the monkeys!), the investment expert revealed the point of his story. Just like Einstein’s simian horde, statistically speaking his competitors would get it right some of the time. But the question he asked potential investors was this: Wouldn’t they rather invest with someone who has a better approach than mere probability? This creates unease, bordering on fear.

So: memorable story + credible main character (plus the Bard) + good point + introduction and then removal of negative emotions + a bit of a twist if you tell it well = full ABC marks and a subtle dig at the competition.

If you’re going to sin – be original! Use anecdote-based communication techniques.

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