NEW at 99-Word Stories
Quick! is a collection of group discussion starters designed to inspire
meaningful conversations about important management issues.
(12 Discussion Activities, 33 pages, Cross Referenced, $10)
Learn more HERE.
99's On the Go
Download a copy of this issue of 99's on the 9th as a PDF.*
View with my iPhone.*
View as a PDF and print from my computer.*
You have permission to use this material for your personal teaching, training, or coaching. You may not sell it or reprint it for other uses without permission from .
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2016 Brian Remer
Updated August 2016
99's on the 9th
based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.
Missed Messages: Avoid serving spam
Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.
Waiting to board my flight at gate B7, I hear, for the third time, an important safety message blaring over the PA system. "Liquids and hazardous materials are not allowed beyond the security checkpoint."
Now, everyone listening to this message has already cleared security and been stripped of offending liquids! If no one has found illegal items by now, I doubt they ever will. Yet the announcement has drowned out other useful information about flight and gate changes.
The result: we come to tolerate things that distract us and learn to ignore messages that could be vital.
You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.
There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.
Tweet, post, like, poke. There are so many ways to grab attention during these days of digital communication and social media. But that doesn't mean your announcement will ever be heard. The competition for attention is fierce. Several times a day each of us make decisions about which instant message to open; which tweet is worth a look; which email deserves a response.
That's why, if you have something important to say, it's worth saying it well. Here are some tips that I use to write a story with meaning in just 99 words. Many of them are relevant for other types of messages.
- Jump Start: Begin with a bang by using an interesting title, an unusual hook, or an uncommon reference right from the start.
- Be Believable: Use real situations but take creative license; look for irony, humor, surprise. Share something of yourself by being vulnerable, revealing inner dialogue, or showing your human failings.
- Be Tangible: Make it specific; name people and places. Assert your artistic license to invent a name for a character, identify a location, or change a timeframe if it will enhance your message.
- Invoke Emotion: Be colorful by using adjectives and action verbs that are more expressive. Use a thesaurus and avoid the most common descriptors.
- Talk Story: Make connections; associate your story with other ideas, issues, or the comments of noteworthy thought leaders.
- Be Brief: Edit. Stay focused on the essence of your message. What do people really need to know? Eliminate what(ever) distracts (from that).
- Finish Strong: End with a punch. Use an unexpected twist, moral, lesson, or "bookend" to bring closure.
You don't need to use all these suggestions in each and every communication. Just one or two will make your message more memorable. But the true key to your success will be having a clear idea of what you are communicating, to whom, and why.
Think about your message, its wording and delivery. How it will be interpreted given the context that constrains it? What are you trying to accomplish? What action do you want people to take? If it's important enough to share, share it well!
In the example of the 99-Word Story, this clarity was absent. Passengers waiting at the gate for their plane didn't need a reminder not to carry hazardous materials. But what did they need, a request to look for dangerous liquids, encouragement to report suspicious activity, or reassurance that security personnel were doing their job? Choose any answer and what you announce will be very different - and so will your result! What should passengers do after hearing the chosen message? Begin looking in odd corners, become suspicious of other passengers, or relax with a calm attitude? Again, if you are not clear, don't expect anyone else to heed your announcement!
Focus on the essence, speak to the right people, make it interesting, let folks know what you expect, and avoid serving up a canned message.
Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.
To add or delete your name to our mailing list, email with a short note in the subject line.
I want this newsletter to be practical, succinct, and thoughtful. If you have suggestions about how I can meet these criteria, please let me know! Send me an with your thoughts and ideas.
For more information, please contact .