Now for something completely different: small changes, big impact

Consulting on the script for this excellent film by Medical Aid Films taught me some very useful lessons in terms what changes deliver maximum impact to a communication. The team already had a good solid technical script in place in terms of what Midwives delivered in practical terms. To craft this into something that told their story though, I needed to move the focus to their ‘mission’ and the many positive effects their work has on the mothers they work with. What I found was that the most critical changes were adding a first line to set the agenda and tone, and a last line to wrap up the messages of the film.

The original first line was;

I’m a midwife. I care for women before, during and after they have a baby

The final script reads;

I’m a midwife,. My job is to help women have the best experience of birth, before, during and after they have a baby

It places the midwife firmly as a professional, it makes the mother’s experience central to their role and it has a determined energy to it, because ‘care’ is only part of the story.

I think being very aware of the potential of your first line and last line is important in every communication. These lines set the parameters for you entire communication:-

  • how do you welcome your audience in?
  • what do you leave them with?

I can give you an example of a great revolution in a first line I have seen in the last couple of weeks. I was working with a group who were using story coaching to change the way they communicated internally. At the start Katy delivered her piece on improving performance in the customer services department as she had originally planned to deliver it. It went something like this..

“We’ve been looking into various KPI’s across the business. We have seen that in customer services KPIs are not as good as we would like them to be and we feel we need to work on these”

Snoozeville – even Katy agreed this was not very inspiring. Then after thinking about using a person to make it real and how her first line could be improved she came up with this..

I want to see more Mr Bander’s in this business. I am going to tell you about Mr Bander. He rang in with a complaint to our customer services department and was handled so well by Michelle that he was moved to write to the company to say how pleased he was with his treatment. We need more Mr Banner’s and more Michelles.”

A first line revolution which informed and transformed the rest of the piece.

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