#SOTD 22: Two tweets, five story lessonsMarch 15, 2022 2023-01-04 18:57
#SOTD 22: Two tweets, five story lessons
I think I have come across one of the most engaging analyst-storytellers on the Russia-Ukraine war.
Prof. Poast’s tweet threads are fascinating case studies in crafting a narrative from data.
I decided to take his latest thread (published yesterday, 14-Mar) and break down the story techniques he uses.
It’s a 45-tweet thread and begins with this one:
Then I realised, hang on. This is TOO much work for one #SOTD.
And so this week, we shall do an #SOTD series on this tweet thread by the good professor.
Let’s start with the first tweet itself. He doesn’t say:
- I have analysed the Russia-Ukraine issue and come up with some conclusions (too vague)
- Analysis of Russian economic condition and implications (title, not a clear message)
- Russia is in dire straits due to the economic sanctions (clear message, but not evocative enough)
– Looks back in history (norm-variance) and comes up with an analogy for what historical precedent best describes the Russian economic situation.
– States that point well upfront: “Russia seems to be following the British WW1 financial model”
– Adds a ‘So-what does it mean’ to that statement… (“That didn’t end well for Britain … or the world economy”) implying that there’s bad news for Russia and the global economy going ahead.
– And then adds a funny WW1 era cartoon that tells a thousand words in 1 image.
And finally for the coup de grace – check out tweet number two:
With the first tweet, he piqued your curiosity and got your attention (“Oh really, like the Brits in WW1, how?”).
With the second, he’s telling you: “I’ll tell you the answer, but let me tell you a story first.”
What he is doing here is: Controlling the release of information (to manage your curiosity and attention).
“The only useful definition of narrative is that it’s a controlled release of information. The way in which you release that information is all up to you.” – Christopher Nolan
To recap, Prof. Poast uses the following story techniques:
- Gives a clear takeaway summarising the issue (give BLUF)
- Delivered using an analogy (Analogy)
- With an implication for the audience (make the audience care by showing implication)
- With an evocative image (Show, don’t just tell)
- And rounded up by piquing our curiosity to read the whole thread (control release of information)
All of this in just four simple sentences across two tweets.
This is an #SOTD bonanza.
And we have just begun.