Perspective changes everything

5 min reading time

'Once upon a time there were six blind travelers, who encountered six different parts of an elephant on their life's journey. The first felt the elephant's side and declared that the elephant was a wall. The second felt a tusk and said the elephant was a spear. The third blind traveler touched the trunk and felt a snake. The fourth sat on his knee and was convinced it was a tree. The fifth touched his ear and declared that it was a fan. The sixth and last felt his tail and said it was a rope.'

This abridged version of an Indian fable teaches us that a single fact, like an elephant, can have as many as six different perspectives. Each perspective is based on a different experience. If a fairly simple concept like an elephant can already have six different perspectives, you can imagine that with more complex issues, that there are even more. Let alone if you have an audience consisting of more than six people!

When you tell your story, you can also tell it from different perspectives and with different pieces of ‘evidence’ to carry your story. In previous The Speech Republic blogs, we wrote that your story will have a broader foundation if you provide evidence that both stimulates your head and touches your heart. It's important to strike a good balance here. What that balance looks like will depend on your audience. In this blog, you will read how to present evidence that will appeal to your audience, so that you can make something special happen in both their minds and hearts. Evidence allows your audience to experience an ‘Aha’ moment or see things differently than before. What choice do you make when selecting your evidence, when so much information is available?

When you tell your story, you can also tell it from different perspectives and with different evidence to carry your story.

JP Rangaswami: Giving information is like cooking.

JP Rangaswami is a technology innovator and in his "Information is food" TED talk, he offers a helping hand to change our perspective on information. He talks about the film Short Circuit, which tells the story of a robot that gets electrocuted and is brought back to life. The first thing the robot says after being revived is, "Give me input, give me input! As JP Rangaswami watched this, he realized that for a robot, information and power are the same thing. Then he asked himself what it would be like if he looked at himself as someone where energy and information are the two things he gets as input. Energy and information are similar to each other. He argues that just as with food, humans began as hunters and gatherers of information and progressed to farmers and cultivators of information. In addition, like food, you can produce, prepare and consume information. The question that then arises is how we can establish in ourselves, a diet that allows us to find balance in the amount of different information. Just as we do this with our food, we will have to find our way through this with evidence.


What will your information diet be?

The crux is to not share everything you know during your stories. That's what we at The Speech Republic call content dumping. In order to formulate a well-balanced information diet for your audience, you actually have to ask yourself two questions:

What is their perspective at this moment? Think back to the Elephant in the Indian fable: does your audience see only the tail? Or only the side? If you could use one fact to show the status quo, what fact would it be?
What do you want them to (see) after your story? What information do they need from you to see the whole elephant, rather than just a part? If you could use one fact to change their perspective, and show them what you see, what fact would that be?
By using your audience's perspective to make sharper choices in your story, in the information recipe you present to them, you not only become more relevant, but also more interesting to your audience. Those ‘Aha’ moments don't happen by accident. Consider what mental shift you want to bring about, and make your choices in your information recipe based on that.

P.S. Check out the TED talk here: