What if I asked you for your opinion and edits on my just-written 400 page novel…and then handed you page 57…and said ‘go’…
Of course, you could read that one page. And you could offer that the chapter name is a bit odd. You might suggest that the ‘Bill’ character speak more sweetly to ‘Anne’.
Your feedback would be so appreciated, but it wouldn’t really work—for one reason and one reason only: you have no context. You’re missing the other 399 pages. You haven’t seen how all of the chapter names follow a similar pattern (so that their oddity makes sense). And you don’t know that Anne did something just terrible to Bill on page 31…which is why she doesn’t really deserve his sweetness.
The way I see it, I have two options. The first is to provide either the novel’s full background or the remaining 399 pages. The second is to make sure that each page is so plain and un-nuanced that you won’t need any context at all.
In my humble opinion, option two will take all of the oomph, the magic, the je ne sais quois out of my novel. And my novel shouldn’t have to suffer. Option one, on the other hand, will invite you inside. It will give you a full appreciation for chapter structure, for character development…dare I say, for everything.
Every company has an ‘opinion and editing’ approval process; typically executed by a department that oversees, manages and edits any and all material that will be seen by anyone outside HQ walls—such as Legal Medical Regulatory (LMR), branding guidelines, rights and clearances, etc.
And something that we notice in the meeting industry is: when meeting stakeholders present meeting content to the approval department, it’s akin to me handing you page 57.
Context is needed. Without it, there’s nothing but misunderstanding—and a black and white response: this stays, this goes. With context, there’s room for grey, slight tweaks, finding common ground…and total understanding.
When I explain the context of my odd chapter titles, you can allow for its uniqueness and even see it for what it really is: creativity. When you explain the context of your meeting (objectives, audience needs, theme, tactics, strategy), perhaps the approval team can allow for your efforts and see them for what they really are: a cohesive effort to take the audience and your company somewhere new, somewhere that gives them every page necessary to ‘get it’ and move it forward.