Words of Wisdom for
Leadership, Learning, and Life in
Exactly 99 Words

NEW at 99-Word Stories

Talk Quick!
99-Word Stories to Spark Discussion about Common Management Issues
by Brian Remer

Talk Quick! is a collection of group discussion starters designed to inspire meaningful conversations about important management issues.
(12 Discussion Activities, 33 pages, Cross Referenced, $10)

Learn more HERE.

99's On the Go

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99-Word Stories by ,
Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2016 Brian Remer
Updated August 2016

99's on the 9th

Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.

August 2016 -
Missed Messages: Avoid serving spam

Read this story aloud or make copies for your group or team members.

Missed Messages
Waiting to board my flight at gate B7, I hear, for the third time, an important safety message blaring over the PA system. "Liquids and hazardous materials are not allowed beyond the security checkpoint."

Now, everyone listening to this message has already cleared security and been stripped of offending liquids! If no one has found illegal items by now, I doubt they ever will. Yet the announcement has drowned out other useful information about flight and gate changes.

The result: we come to tolerate things that distract us and learn to ignore messages that could be vital.


You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discussion within your team or organization.

There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis.

Tweet, post, like, poke. There are so many ways to grab attention during these days of digital communication and social media. But that doesn't mean your announcement will ever be heard. The competition for attention is fierce. Several times a day each of us make decisions about which instant message to open; which tweet is worth a look; which email deserves a response.

That's why, if you have something important to say, it's worth saying it well. Here are some tips that I use to write a story with meaning in just 99 words. Many of them are relevant for other types of messages.

You don't need to use all these suggestions in each and every communication. Just one or two will make your message more memorable. But the true key to your success will be having a clear idea of what you are communicating, to whom, and why.

Think about your message, its wording and delivery. How it will be interpreted given the context that constrains it? What are you trying to accomplish? What action do you want people to take? If it's important enough to share, share it well!

In the example of the 99-Word Story, this clarity was absent. Passengers waiting at the gate for their plane didn't need a reminder not to carry hazardous materials. But what did they need, a request to look for dangerous liquids, encouragement to report suspicious activity, or reassurance that security personnel were doing their job? Choose any answer and what you announce will be very different - and so will your result! What should passengers do after hearing the chosen message? Begin looking in odd corners, become suspicious of other passengers, or relax with a calm attitude? Again, if you are not clear, don't expect anyone else to heed your announcement!

Focus on the essence, speak to the right people, make it interesting, let folks know what you expect, and avoid serving up a canned message.


Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.

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