The tourist lifted his camera and walked towards the statue. He peered through the viewfinder, shook his head and turned on his heels. “Impossible,” I heard him tell his companion. “The sun is wrong.”
I’d been sitting in the shadow of the statue, on the waterfront in a Mexican fishing village. As I reflected on the frustration of the photographer it struck me that often we take the same approach when we try to write a speech. Or embark on any piece of writing, for that matter.
Here’s the scene that prompted the photographer to declare that the sun was wrong. (A little unfair on the sun, which was simply doing what it’s been doing for quite a long time).
Of course, the photographer was right. It wasn’t a good picture from where he was standing because the statue was three-quarters back-lit. The background was so bright it was impossible to pick out any detail in the statue. From his point of view it was an impossible shot.
But it was not the fault of the sun. The photographer was simply not exploring his options. He need to move; to change is point of view. If he’s stepped five meters to his right he’d have taken this picture.
Reasonably lit, and for the first time there’s a chance to show the real meaning of the statue. From the front it was hard to see what the fisherman was doing. From the side you could see his muscles strain under the weight of his catch – a giant sailfish.
Apply the same approach when you sit down to write a speech, plan a presentation or prepare some promotional copy. Don’t settle for your initial effort. Explore different angles, different perspectives. Adjust your point of view.
The tourist lost his picture because he fell in love with his first decision – to approach the statue from the front. When you are writing, don’t fall in love with your first words. Play with options. Walk around the sentences and see how they look from another angle.
When you set out to write a speech, regard your first draft as the starting point – not the finishing line.
If you found this article useful, you might want to download the free 26-page White Paper on Tigher, Brighter Writing from our website.
Neil Everton has distilled a lifetime’s experience with some of the world’s top news organizations into his Media Mastery training aids for anyone worried about talking to reporters. The video, books, e-books and workbooks are available in the Podium Coaching online store.