Last night I went to the “9/11 Never Forget” mobile exhibit that is in town for a week.  I was in Manhattan just a few months after the terror attack and saw the site while it was still a mountain of mangled steel.  This exhibit triggered all that emotion again.

I have seen artifacts before and even signed one of the recovered beams that was used in the new construction, but two key things made this exhibit different.  First, they played the 911 recordings which allowed you to hear the escalating scope of the emergency.  Secondly, the exhibit was staffed by volunteer retired New York City Fire Fighters.  These men were actually involved in the rescue efforts and lost colleagues in the line of duty.  They brought a human dimension to the disaster that pictures and pieces of burnt steel can not.

This exhibit was relatively small and limited because it was encased in a trailer, but there were still lessons to be learned from it.  When trying to convey your message, utilize story instead of facts; pictures instead of words; and engage multiple senses.  The exhibit had pictures and quotes from survivors, rescuers, heroes, bystanders and those who lost loved ones.  A collage of front page media covers showed the magnitude of the attack and the outrage at it.  It was all simple but potent.

Think about how you can tell your story in multiple dimensions.  You don’t need a large space to convey giant emotions.

— beth triplett

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