If you want to communicate anything worthwhile to people, don’t tell them Data told you.

We’ve all been to a party where one person holds court.  For every few words the people in the circle manage to squeeze in, this guy comes back with three times the number of anecdotes. At first, you’re fairly impressed by his amazing recall, and ability to spin out a yarn. But, after a while, his interjections become predictable (formulaic even), and you start noticing how rudely he talks over, across and down at people. What a know-it-all he is, you think. Before long, the conversation doesn’t so much flow as perforate any chance of a real connection. You sidle over to the bar for a top-up, never to return.

Well, that’s kind of how I feel about Data; only worse because Data doesn’t even pretend to converse. And yet I got into film and animation because I believe that video is the answer to people engaging with information that they would otherwise brush off – to their detriment.data-star-trek

So how do you best communicate data via video?

If I have this tug-of-war with Data, then surely the data will show I’m not alone in this.

When Data is in the room, it is my experience that you’re obliged to take everything it says as gospel, and woe betide you if you dare to proffer an alternative. That way lies shaming and disgrace. What could you possibly recall that Data hasn’t seen and processed?

There’s your problem and mine (as a member of the public). When Data does actually have something worthwhile to say, I’ve switched off.  So, how do you (someone who has mined something useful out of Data) get someone like me (who has had some fairly traumatic encounters with this character) to pay any mind to what you’ve got to say?

Well, firstly, don’t tell me Data lurks behind our initial conversation.

Tell me anything else. Tell me it’s your research or interesting highlights or a ground-breaking discovery. But, tell me it’s Data and I’m already at the bar. And remember, on social media, I don’t have to be polite. I will ignore you.

Secondly, do something this know-it-all wouldn’t. Seek to understand something about me first, and empathize with my situation.

Think back to any party you’ve been at. Who did you want to stay around for? The person who interested you and found you interesting, or the one sucking up all the oxygen.

Thirdly, entertain me long enough to get me interested, but not so long that I lose interest.

Everyone likes to be entertained. To switch off for a moment. But you don’t want me to switch off. You want me to be switched on. So, know when to move the conversation on, expanding my horizons at the party by introducing me to someone or something interesting.

Lastly, I just want to say, what a wonderful time I’ve had. When can we meet again? And where?

And that’s why video is the Sancho Panza to ‘Data’ Quixote.

As Data’s ally, you’re looking to communicate with someone like me – someone distractedly scrolling through their social media feed. You’d do far better playing The Fool – or The Magician even. By putting on a short show with a video, you’re inviting me to look behind the curtain with you. When you lead with Data’s antisocial behaviour and overload our first encounter, you’re already talking to my back and the backs of everyone at the bar.

By showing what Data has up his sleeve is, by far, a surer way to win friends and influence people.

Curveball Nicola

Nicola worked in digital marketing in-house for big-name publishing companies for 20 years (Amazon, Bloomsbury, BCA). She came to work for Curveball Media, after becoming a convert to video, and advises clients on strategy and approach.

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