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In the blood…

An incisive take on tone of voice, courtesy of one of the big pop hits of the 8Os: A-Ha’s Take On Me

“We’d already written Take On Me but hadn’t recorded it…It reminded me of an advert for chewing gum that went: Juicy Fruit is a packet full of sunshine. That influenced the verse melody,” says A-Ha’s singer Morten Harket. “Paul [Waaktaar-Savoy, guitarist] had the idea of really using my vocal range in the chorus, having notes rising in octaves like Strauss’s Also Sprach Zarathustra. As for hitting that last high note, you either have wings or you don’t – the voice is not in the throat, it’s in the blood. It’s what you envisage, what you believe. ”

From the flighty falsetto of Take On Me to the rutting bellow of the red deer in Bushy Park last weekend:

Albeit way down the scale, this character’s call was equally full of emotional conviction.

High notes or low, find your voice in your blood. Sing from the heart.

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Human traffic signs…

To the launch of the D&AD 2015 Annual and on the big screen at the event the Human Traffic Signs campaign caught my eye – not least because it gave another take on the power of emotional communication to encourage road safety.

Every three minutes someone is injured by a traffic accident in China. One in ten die. To help fight this, the campaign revolves around a simple and arresting idea: to use real accident victims to underline the dangers. To this end, we see them holding up traffic signs at the spots where their accidents actually happened.

Commissioned by Shanghai General Motors; created by Lowe China; deserved winner of a D&AD White Pencil for work that excels in effecting real and positive change in the world through creative thinking.

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…again, oh…

The last in a trio of comments upon the comma…

As the comma carefully placed by my daughter between “again” and “oh” in her literacy homework demonstrates, punctuation is as much about character as it is about correctness. This is a delicate mark, for the Lady is veiled in gossamer sorrow. No heavy-handed dash here, just the light touch of a gentle comma.

My daughter’s deft touch with her comma put me in mind of another brilliant example of how using that mark in the right way can work wonders with the meaning and feel of what you are writing: Orange Pear Apple Bear. With just those four words, well-placed punctuation and simple illustration, Emily Gravett conjures a book of pure enchantment.

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Brilliant advocates…

It’s good to see storytelling in business gets a big thumbs up from Luke Johnson in his New Year article for the FT.

“What is the special secret that makes a great entrepreneur? The power to motivate – to lead others in a grand task. So how do they enthuse and encourage followers? A key ingredient is the ability to tell stories. The more compelling the storyteller, the more devoted the adherents. From Benjamin Franklin…to Akio Morita…these were not spin masters but brilliant advocates who caught people’s imaginations and won both hearts and minds.”

Equating storytelling with advocacy is spot on, for the best stories in business, like the best representations in court, are carefully considered and crafted for a particular purpose and audience. Their emotional appeal is finely tuned and precisely targeted. As Luke Johnson says, this is the opposite of the chatter and noise of the daily news. “Rolling news channels and the digital revolution mean the exposure and pitch of headlines are more intense than ever. We cannot influence any of these events, unlike our own stories. So I recommend that readers avoid too much news and focus instead on cultivating their own narratives.” And if you like, enlist an expert to help you cultivate them.

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Merry English…

According to a review of the Historical Thesaurus of the Oxford English Dictionary, the English language has a uniquely cheerful ratio of positive to negative emotional terms: about 60% happy to 40% sad. For German, the ratio is a glum 28% to 72%, while for Chinese it’s an even gloomier 22% to 78%.

Doesn’t that make you feel as merry as a pismire (1643)?