Show, don’t tell

I recently read an article about writing techniques that talked about “showing” the reader what was happening versus “telling” them.  An example of telling a story is: “it was bitterly cold outside.”  Or we could show the reader: “I braced myself as I headed outside.  Exiting the building I hear the rope on the flag slapping against the pole.  The straining flag appears to glow with the sun behind it.  My body reflexively shivers when the next wind gust hits.  I chose the wrong jacket.”   This same principle of show, don’t tell can be applied to business and IT. 

As an example, you could say we’re experience great growth year over year or you could show a simple graphic and let people draw their own conclusions.  In this graphic I also draw from the viewpoint of less is more.  There are no axis, scales or excess colors and labels as they don’t bring any value.  The graphic simply shows a value of 20 for 2013 and 40 for 2014.  My challenge to you is to think where you can apply show, don’t tell in your own writing, presentations and applications.


1 comment:

  1. Great thoughts, Bryan. I couldn't agree more. It reminds me of this Forbes article, "[Steve] Jobs went back to the basics of storytelling: heroes, villains, and characters."