Today in 1987 the first episode of The Simpsons went out making its debut on the Tracey Ullman show.
It’s now the longest running prime-time animation and has won multiple awards.
The programme is a storytelling master and there’s no better communications technique.
Here are six things The Simpsons can teach us for becoming better business communicators:
It’s short: Life is busy. The more concise your message the more impactful. The Simpson’s half-hour format was developed 30+ years ago – by today’s short-form standards, even that’s long!
It’s consistent: People know what to expect and when. There’s a familiarity to the show’s rhythm. Much of today’s communication battle is attracting your audience. It takes time – consistency is key.
It’s simple: Politics, religion and even climate destruction – The Simpsons tackles difficult topics but simplifies them to make them accessible. There is no subject matter that can’t be simplified.
It’s teamwork: Homer might be central but could he really make it through a single episode without Bart, Lisa, Maggie or Marge? Just like in business, an isolated hero rarely succeeds.
It’s transformative: The show invents words. ‘Embiggen’ (to make bigger and more expansive) is now included in the Oxford dictionary. Words matter. Those we embrace at work impact and influence company culture.
It’s ongoing: Just like in business the show’s story is ongoing and no-one knows the ultimate ending. But people need meaning. Each standalone episode makes sense but they all ladder to tell the bigger Simpsons story. Great business storytelling helps others see how individual messages ladder-up to a bigger, more meaningful, picture.
Alex would like to make it clear that her ‘Duff’ surname is purely coincidental – she doesn’t stand to make any royalties by blogging about The Simpsons!
Alex was employed by internationally-loved household brands to craft their words for two decades. She left to establish not A Duff word in March 2017. She now helps businesses, brands and boards to wordsmith words that work, master their messages to matter and sculpt standout stories. Her blog ‘early words’ is published Thursday mornings at 07:00.