Is this a utopian dream? I've had a book recommended to me called 'Read This Before Our Next Meeting: How we can get more done' by Al Pittampalli.
The blurb says: "The average office worker spends eleven hours in meetings every week. Traditional meetings reduce efficiency, kill urgency, and breed compromise and complacency. But there is a solution, a way to have fewer, shorter, more purposeful meetings: Al Pittampalli's Modern Meeting Standard. By following its eight simple but radical principles you may never have to attend a useless meeting again."
Councils talk extensively about how projects will contribute to the wellbeing of the "community" ... which makes sense, given this is councils' role. Unfortunately, our brains are wired to care more about the story of one person rather than a whole lot of people.
"People care about things that move them ... [and] the story of one person can do that to you very powerfully. But it's harder for five people to do that to you, really hard for one hundred, and for a million ... the people just become a statistic from which you are detached." (Randy Olson, 'Houston, We Have a Narrative')
This is why giving specific examples of how your project will improve individuals' lives is really powerful. (This is not always possible in a local government context, but it's worth considering when writing your reports and consultation documents.)
I wrote my first article about climate change back at the AIT Journalism School in 1992. It met with a lukewarm response, and now I understand some of the reasons why this subject can be a turn off for people.
1. There are multiple causes and consequences, which creates confusion. (And the really cold snaps around the globe make it even more confusing.)
2. It's a story of impacts on the masses, rather than one person we can really relate to and care about.
3. There is no one solution to resolve the issue.
Finding ways to talk about specific aspects of climate change using the ABT story structure (... and ... but ... therefore ...) can help to make climate change stories more interesting.
When reviewing your draft document or presentation notes, it's a good idea to check you haven't included too many changes of direction. A solid sprinkling of words like "despite", "however" and "yet" is a good indication your readers or listeners may become confused about what exactly you are telling them.
Ever been so bored reading a document that you have to physically hold your eyelids open? The likely culprit is an AAA structure ... this AND this AND this AND this ... ad infinetum. This is a recipe for information overload.
To avoid boring your audience, change your structure to 'this AND this (describing the situation) BUT (some kind of obstacle or problem or new information) THEREFORE (this is what we are going to do differently).
Confession: I have always struggled with the word 'theme' even though I have an English degree and have written two novels! However, filling out the sentence shown below is a great way to get to grips with the theme of what you're talking about (and therefore needs to be expressed in different ways throughout your whole document).
I recently used this when writing an article about stormwater issues. "Nothing in STORMWATER (my subject) makes sense except in the light of LAND USE (my theme)."
You can also use it when figuring out what's at the core of your favourite TV series, and maybe why you gravitate towards it. Here are two of mine:
One of the challenges of writing an infrastructure strategy is how to be both concise and comprehensive. Applying the ABT story structure is a really good way to cut through the details to the key points you want to make.
Here's a fictional example: "X infrastructure is reaching the end of its useful life AND replacing it in its current location is not cost-effective in the long term due to the extent of coastal erosion. (BUT) There are alternative ways to provide the same service, using an alternative route. THEREFORE we will continue to maintain the X infrastructure in the short term and have allocated $x for design and construction of the new infrastructure in the alternative location from 2024 - 2028."
These are the posts I have shared on social media, all in one place for easy access.