In an earlier entry on this blog, I listed the character as one of the 5 key elements upon which novelists, movie directors, as well as professional presenters rely to let their audience emotionally engage.
The character is the individual (or several of them) that the story is about. The answer to the “who?” question. Many narratives introduce protagonists and antagonists – respectively the main characters of the story and their opponents.
Introducing one or more characters is often a great way to personalize your message and add “what’s at stake?” tension to your story. Depending on the topic of your presentation, the protagonist may be you, your company or even your product, while the antagonist could be a competitor, a demanding customer or even an unfavorable market condition.
As such, I have enriched many of my business talks and blog posts by telling about what happened to “a friend”, “a colleague”, or “a customer of mine”. Characters may be fictive, but you’ll feel more confident and earn more credibility when talking about real persons. Of course, you don’t have to mention their names – particularly when the protagonist or the antagonist appears in a not-very-flattering situation or gets involved in an embarrassing incident.
If you’re a frequent visitor of this site, you may remember the posts below, in which I used the exploits of my colleagues for introducing notorious do’s and don’ts of giving a business presentation. Though names and characters have been anonymized, all these stories report on real-life events that I witnessed personally:
This weekend I walked into a French LEGO store. For more than 80 years, LEGO toys have engaged kids in creative play, encouraging them to imagine, invent and explore (see for example the 1970’s letter from Lego to parents below.) That’s why their flagship store always is a good place to breathe the air of creativity – and in this case, get inspiration for a new blog post.
Incidentally, I stumbled upon the Build-A-Minifigure bar. By combining a broad variety of heads, torsos, legs, hair, hats and accessories, everyone can design and purchase his/her own LEGO character(s).
It made me think about another article I wrote about “creating personas for audience-centric story design,” in which I explained how defining personas may help you to tell a better story. Putting yourself into the shoes of (some in) your audience will help you better understand what they think, believe, do, feel and need.
Suddenly, while having an Aha! moment at the Minifigure bar of the LEGO store, I figured out why I had intuitively borrowed a LEGO image to illustrate this old blog post.
And, then I realized that I might have run into the perfect tool for fleshing-out personas of my audience, and for synthesizing the protagonists and antagonists of my story.
B.Y.O.C. = Bring (or Build, or Buy) Your Own Character…