I’m a Celebrity – lessons from the masters

“Join us after the break when we’ll see whether Helen manages to break her duck”. Whether you love or hate, bugs, bitching, and ritual humiliation it’s really difficult not to be lured into the web of I’m a Celebrity once you have wandered into a room where it’s on. This is no accident, the show is made by some of the best story producers in the business. They are achieving that super-sticky effect by creatively reinterpreting some tried and tested story telling techniques that have been attracting audiences and holding onto them since the dawn of language. What’s exciting is that these are techniques that can be used to hook in any sort of audience for any sort of communication.

One killer story technique embedded in the format of I’m a Celebrity plunges the deepest hook into an audience psyche. It is their choice of story question.

What is a story question? It’s the question your communication is ultimately driving towards answering. The most effective way to keep an audience with you is to ensure everything within your communication is driving towards answering only one big question. Choosing the right story question, the one the audience REALLY wants to know the answer to, is your best chance of keeping them with you to the end.

When the story question is answered the story is over. As an audience member you already instinctively know this. How often have you been at a conference or seminar where the speaker gets to the end of their piece only to make the same point again…and again…and again? You know the story question has been answered and now feel in a stressful circular ‘stacking’ situation waiting for release from the speaker.

So the story question for ‘I’m a Celebrity’ for the first 9 days of the format is “Will the designated celebrity succeed or fail humiliatingly in the Bushtucker Trial?” The producers have also planted smaller ‘hook’ questions to keep our attention along the way and increase the ‘stickiness’ of the story: Who will be voted to take the trial? How desperate are their new colleagues for food? What horrors have been invented for them in today’s Bushtucker trial? What drama has happened in the camp? But we are aware that everything is driving towards the big question and this binds us even more securely to each stage of the story.

What is the big question that your audience would stick around to hear the answer to? Whatever it is, make that the driving force of your communication to them. Does it sound a hassle to be fussing about what your story question should be when you’ve done very well without it up to now? Well if you could increase the stickiness of your message wouldn’t you want to give it a go? There’s a big difference between hearing and listening, and why on earth should the audience bother listening, if you haven’t worked to make your content as relevant and entertaining as possible for them?

I’m a Celebrity like every TV show can’t force you to watch, so it works very hard to persuades, coax, and lures you in to watch. The same attention addressed to business communication will be rewarded.

When I’m running a story coaching session with a client, considering the story question is the single most powerful way of switching their focus from what they want to say to what might persuade their audience to pay attention. It works whatever the format; a web-site, company boiler-plate, pitch, strategy presentation or indeed any other communication piece. So hand on heart I can guarantee that extra time spent considering the story question will add vital stickiness to whatever message you want to pass on.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *