The unprecedented enormity of this crisis

Or, I don’t think that means what you think it means, episode 2

How are you describing the current state of affairs in the U.S.? Without delving into politics, of course. Does your description sound anything like this?

This is an unprecedented health and economic crisis.

The enormity of the crisis could overwhelm the healthcare system.

Words matter. They set the tone and convey your idea. But entering other people’s minds with your words is a huge responsibility. That’s why accuracy and precision are high priorities at Storyteller.

Let’s take a look at the first example: This is an unprecedented health and economic crisis. You know what “unprecedented” means. “Having no previous example” is a good definition. While we’re not history experts, we know that the Spanish flu of 1918 can be compared to today’s pandemic. The polio epidemic of 1949-1952 could also be an analogy. And have we really forgotten the economic panics of the 2008 financial crisis, 9/11, and the Great Depression?

Want to talk about unprecedented? The response to the pandemic might qualify.

Looking for words to replace unprecedented? Juliet Funt, CEO of White Space at Work, recently offered 21 other terms. My favorites are unparalleled, singular, and unimaginable, and I’d add atypical to the list. As a bonus, she added 21 other options for pivot (because we’re all pivoting now, aren’t we?). I like transform, swivel, and veer. (With kudos to “volte-face” – a term I didn’t previously know.)

And how about the number of patients that were projected to overwhelm the healthcare system? Many writers have expounded on the enormity of the pandemic. Surely “enormity” means a huge amount, right? It sounds like a form of enormous — like an elephant. REALLY BIG!

But enormity has another meaning entirely. The word enormity means “the quality of passing all moral bounds; excessive wickedness or outrageousness … a monstrous offense or evil; an outrage.” You could say that the enormity of the Nazi Holocaust vindicated the U.S. entry into the European theatre in World War II. You could cite the enormity of Pol Pot’s crimes against humanity in the Cambodian genocide. But while the COVID-19 virus is legitimately bad, it has no moral intentions. It just does what a virus does … spread. No enormity here.

While the virus has had a large effect, describe it with words that actually indicate size. Colossal, elephantine, gargantuan, gigantic, huge … they would all work.

What does this mean for the people who partner with Storyteller to communicate complex ideas, products, and services? It means that we always have your back. We find the most precise words to convey your value and to spread your thoughts. We throw ourselves on the grenades of the “almost right” words and lob the perfect words back to you. All while adopting your corporate voice – or helping you find it. Because who wants to be the executive who talks about the enormity of this unprecedented crisis?

(P.S. It would not be unprecedented for you to contact us at 770-823-2044.)