Labour's personal stories approach a good start

Posted February 24, 2016

The decision by Labour MPs to tell personal stories to highlight their new ‘Kiwi Dream’ message is a good idea, but more needs to be done.

The use of personal stories is by far the best way to get a point across to live audiences. It’s also good with media, but must be far briefer in this format. Very few leaders use personal stories in live presentations, but prefer to list point after point after point. This is not only boring, but people remember little, if any of what was said.

That’s why Labour’s new idea is good. A few of their MPs have recently spoken about how life was for them growing up, and they want that back for future generations.

However, there is one necessity when telling stories like this. They must be another way of making a key point that you want to get across to the audience. For example, an MP might tell a story about a friend who was laid off last week and what it did to that person’s family. That could highlight a key point around the need to support small business more. There would also need to be policies to back up that point.

But if there isn’t a concrete point to be made, the story won’t hit the mark. Labour appear to be telling the stories to highlight a message point around concern for future generations.

That might be OK as an overarching message, a bit like National’s ‘Brighter Future’. But they need a three-point message of substance that focuses on how they’re get there. People will continue to vote for the party they think will leave more money in their back pocket.

Once they get those points nailed down, then stories to highlight them could make a real impact. But until then, I can’t see them having a huge impact on the polls.

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