Chekhov On Showing And Not Just Telling

Playwright Anton Chekhov knew a thing or two about showing his audience an idea without explicitly telling them. He said,

Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.

When it comes to our own work, we don’t want to use the cold, blunt jargon of our professions. Instead, we want to find the connective language that will draw our audience into the experience of what we offer. We don’t have to make it poetry, but we do have to make it worth listening to.

Like Chekhov said – don’t tell me, show me. We have to do the same. That means we’ve really got to think about our language choices and how we position the client experience on top of our own execution.

Here’s a practical example: we don’t want the clinical description of what the dentist is going to do in our mouths. We do want the assurances that they know what they’re doing, that it won’t hurt or cost too much, and that after they’re done we won’t have to come back for a good while.

If Chekhov had been a dentist, he would have figured out a way to draw the customer into the story of his work. We get to do the same for our professions. Our words matter. It’s our opportunity to use them well. Do more than tell, show.

h/t Richard Shotton for highlighting this quote.

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