Telling vs. Engaging vs. Scaring the *&%# Out of People

Great discussion on books that shock at Robin Brande’s blog – here: http://www.robinbrande.com/reading/issue-books .

Programs that create a better future don’t just tell stories – they engage people in those stories. It’s easy to shock, but after a while, is anyone listening? More to the point, is anyone doing something about what they hear?

If we don’t engage, inspire, encourage – then we are just telling a horror story, and hoping someone, somewhere, will be shocked into action. So many millions of people uninsured, getting lousy healthcare. So many people killed in a war. The world is in such a horrible mess.

That approach hasn’t worked so far – why do we continue to do it, thinking at some point it might? Isn’t that the definition of insanity?

So what do you all think? Have you found effective ways of convening and engaging honest conversation that moves us forward? Something that gets beyond the shock value and the photos of the kids with cleft palettes and on to more meaningful dialogue? Anyone have stories of what has worked?

2 Responses to Telling vs. Engaging vs. Scaring the *&%# Out of People

  1. Hi Hildy,

    I’m so glad Robin encouraged you to post your answer over on her blog discussion. When I first posed the question to her privately, she encouraged me to post publicly too, and I’m glad I did…what a great exchange of thoughts!

    I loved your answer. It was so much what I was looking for when I aired my unhappiness and discomfort. I wanted some explanation of why I felt so bad, and what we as authors could do about the big issues without exploiting the victims or our readers. I never thought about this in relation to non-profit fund raising, but of course, your explanation makes wonderful sense. You absolutely have to make the listener feel engaged and ABLE to help.

    Thank you again. I hope to see you posting over at Robin’s again!

    Sara Holmes

  2. Sara:
    Thank you so much for bringing up the issue in the first place! The timing could not have been better for me. I am feverishly working on my book, explaining why the sector that was supposed to change the world hasn’t changed the world, and how we can. And the chapter I am working on right now is all about how we can more effectively engage folks in the work we are doing to make the world a better place.

    So you cannot know what serendipity it was to come across the conversation at Robin’s blog, just at the moment my head was wrapped around all those issues!

    I will indeed keep an eye out for interesting conversation at Robin’s, and I hope you will join us here as things heat up!
    Hildy