Pictures and Frames

Here’s an idea pilfered (with permission) from my friend Jennifer.

It turns out that when people go to museums, they spend up to 10 times as much of their time reading the blurbs next to the artwork as they spend looking at the artwork itself.

Which might be why, when we try to describe what we do, we essentially write blurbs that are good enough (at best) to sit next to the picture…which is a shame since we’re all in the business of creating art.  You know: “We aim to revolutionize the customer experience by enabling real-time interaction in a customer-centric fashion using…..”  (Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz).

And yes, the nonprofit sector is the worst offender here, because the things we’re doing, the things in the picture frame, are so motivating and so real, and they inspires such a deep human connection that it’s doubly shameful that we use such wilted language to describe what we do.

So, the next time you sit down to write down what you do or to explain it to someone, start by imagining the picture that’s inside the frame, and describe what you see instead.

I promise it will be more real, less polished, and less likely to be interchangeable with the next organization up the block that seems, to all of us, to do the same thing you do.   (And I bet you’ll write it in real English too!)

Go ahead, even if it’s not your job to do this stuff, imagine the picture that’s inside the frame for your organization.  Describe it 6 words or less.  Send your description to the CEO and to the people that really matter.

Have fun.

[NOTE: Just realized that Katya’s (Network for Good COO) blog has some great step-by-step tips about how to do this.  Thanks Katya!]

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