Never assume, you make an ass of you and me

never assumeConsider the old adage; “Never assume or you will make an ASS of U and ME”. Clever, witty and so important in almost any sphere of work, especially creative media.

While there are a number of things I’m not good at, one thing I am very good at is, what we might call, visualising the end result. I’m the annoying person who looks at an empty room and says “Well the sofa will be great here, the TV will be good there, and wall light would be fantastic…and so on.
It’s the same with film projects, I see the final film images clearly in my mind, but the challenge is to help clients, actors and crew see the same thing. The key I’ve found, is never assume that they see what you ‘see’.

This will not be a great revelation to most readers, but I can also hear some of you muttering under your breathe! All too often when we get excited about projects, film or other, we forget that 90% of communication is actually translation. Assumptions get made and the errors follow swiftly behind.

In film and video productions you’ll use scripts, storyboards or effects pre-visualisation to enhance understanding, in corporate circles you’ll use PowerPoint, even printers will use Pantone colours to eliminate ambiguity. The intention in all is the same; distil what I have in my mind, so that you can understand it, and see it the way I do.

As I tell my corporate clients, a vocal pause or tiny facial movement can enhance or undercut the veracity of a statement made on camera. So, let’s be definite about what we want to say on-screen, vocally and visually.

never assumeSo, whether you’re dealing with paying clients or working with actors and crew, if you want to live a happier life, then abandon phrases like “But it’s obvious what colour blue I meant” or “I thought we were on the same page” and try something that will help you assess understanding. Try something like “What colour blue would you call that?”, “Do you want to talk me through how you see it?”. A lot of times you’ll be surprised by the answers.

The benefit of this approach is:

  • Greater understanding between the people working with you
  • Less mistakes and arguments
  • Less wasted time and money

Good luck with your next film, corporate video or company meeting. As always more than happy to answer questions or respond to mail. Thanks for reading.

Written by Mark Alexander Todd

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One thought on “Never assume, you make an ass of you and me

  • May 5, 2017 at 12:47 pm

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