Kubrick, Context and Persuasion

One of the lessons in The Forbidden Keys to Persuasion focuses on the power of context. The reason is simple: context is one of the most overlooked aspects of communication. Especially persuasive communication.

People often spend far more time and money honing the specifics of their message than they do contemplating the “frame” around their message. In other words, context gets lost in our effort to “polish” and “perfect” our messages. Yet, if the context itself is weak or confusing, all the detail work in the world will be for naught.

Many people dismiss this idea in their rush to concentrate on more “important” issues. What should they say? How should they say it? What should they include? What should they exclude? Etc. These are important questions – but ONLY once the issue of context has been addressed. Until a context has been chosen, these decisions cannot be made with any degree of accuracy.

I recently stumbled upon a short video that might help drive this point home. It’s a remake of a movie trailer for The Shining, Stanley Kubrick’s classic horror film. It uses actual clips and dialog from the original film but places them within a context of a “family comedy”. The result is very funny and most people will get a quick laugh and then keep on surfin’. But if you’re looking to learn something, it can actually teach you something very powerful. It can help you appreciate the power of context.

Take a look and see what a difference a little thing like context can make:

Originally published October 17, 2005