How do we think here at Collective Next? At our most recent Transcribe (Transcribes are weekly chats during which we share what we’ve learned recently and figure out what it means to us and our clients), our Senior Chief Transcribe Officertm Mason Smith led a wide-ranging discussion that touched on parallel processing, fantasy football, and a product we’re developing that we won’t go into here. Eventually, we settled on a topic close to our hearts here: helping our clients develop stories that move quickly and, because they are so dense, move you down the road further than you’d expect.
The talk about story density was provoked by a recent episode of Breaking Bad (relevant interview with writer of that episode here; it’s stuffed with spoilers if you care about such things). In talking about it, we marvelled how, when your story moves quickly and decisively, you can pack in more and take your audience on a longer, more exhaustive ride. We considered story from plenty of different angles. One of the most intriguing one was physics: if density in the physical world is mass divided by volume, then presentations and storytelling get more dense as communicators try to squeeze more material into less space.
There are downsides to this, of course: we’ve all sat through talks in which it feels like someone is trying to summarize the history of the world in 10 minutes. But the trick for storytellers who want their ideas to stick is to make brutal choices about what to leave in and what to leave out. How much density does the audience need? How much will it accept?