How Provocative Are You? Raising the Barr Weekly Memo: Issue 216

One of my biggest pet peeves is boring content especially when presented by smart thinkers. My simplest gauge used to measure the impact of such content is whether my reaction falls under the category of “boring” or “so what?” vs. “wow!”, “this is profound” or “I never thought about it this way.”

Over the years, I suggested that in order to increase your audience interest and engagement you must increase the level of your provocative content and the provocative questions you ask. I realize that being provocative can have a negative association. Just look at the dictionary definition: “causing annoyance, anger, or another strong reaction, especially deliberately.” Yet, the origin of the word “provoke” and some Thesaurus recommendations are: “elicit, induce, excite, spark off, kindle, stimulate and more.” And that’s where I see the power and effectiveness.

A while back, I shared on one of my podcasts, 11 Tips for Creating Provocative Content. I encourage you to listen to this podcast and here is the summary of the suggestions contained within:

  1. Pose a provocative question.
  2. The last thing you want to do is…
  3. This may sound counterintuitive but…
  4. You are already thinking about it completely wrong.
  5. May I suggest a complete different way of thinking?
  6. Why did you do it?
  7. Reverse it.
  8. Use negative titles.
  9. Use positive titles.
  10. Take a contrarian approach.
  11. Challenge basic premises.

Some additional thoughts about being provocative:

  • Encourage them to read between the lines and look beyond the obvious
  • Be bold and courageous
  • Experiment
  • Pay attention and take notes from the best provocateurs
  • Save or archive provocative ideas for use later

There is a fine line between being provocative vs. offensive or sarcastic. The key is to shake them up or positively provoke them to think differently and mobilize them to take action and make a positive and impactful change.

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