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Is This Thing On?

Testing, testing, 1, 2, 3! Have you ever seen someone step up to a microphone and test it? It feels really uncomfortable to be asked to test a mic if you’ve never done it before. In fact, I hate being put on the spot like that. Should I say something clever? And how long do I need to talk? How do I know if it is working? Can they hear me if I can hear myself?

Old-fashioned Microphone

The point I really want to make is about being heard and being listened to. There’s a difference right?

Communication is Complicated

Our message is made up by the words we use, the quality and tone of our voice and our body language. All three factors impact how the message is interpreted.

If you really want someone to listen and hear what you are saying, you have to get their undivided attention and this is increasingly difficult today with so many distractions. We can’t really control this. Sure, you could tell someone to stop playing with their smart phone or hold the meeting in a room without and distractions (which is highly unlikely). Or you can be interesting. When you are interesting it means that you are speaking about stuff that is important to your audience (interviewer, workshop, meeting, boss, stakeholders). Your audience has to determine your message. Cater your content to address their problems, concerns, or interests. Communicating your agenda item is not automatically interesting or important to others.

Me, Me, Me

Nope, it isn’t all about YOU! It is about the person you are speaking to. Don’t try to cram your message down their throats. Your pitch isn’t about walking someone through your accomplished history or amazing skills. No one cares- unless you put it in terms that are relevant to them. WIIFM. Have you heard this before? It stands for What’s In It For Me (me is your audience)

Take Time

Do research so you understand your audience before you communicate with them. These three questions should help you refine your fact-finding and preparation.

  • Know their problem.
  • Anticipate their questions.
  • What action do you want them to take.

Simple Explanation

I saw Lee Lefevre, founder of Common Craft and author of The Art of Explanation. He was presenter at the National STC conference where I co-presented in May. He spoke about how to explain things better. These are some of the key points or take-aways. I think you’re going to have to get the book to fill in the blanks!

Have empathy. Put yourself in the shoes of your audience.

Realize that knowledge is a curse!

The more we know, the harder it is to imagine what it is like not to know.

Gain agreement and build context.

Context means you give an easy definition that everyone can relate to.

Tell a story. The simple short story gives the audience a situation they can relate to.

“Meet Bob. Bob has a problem. Bob finds the solution. Bob is happy. Go Bob! (Your audience is thinking- “I’ve got that problem too!)

Use an analogy.

“It’s just like Jaws in space” (George Lucas explaining Star Wars)

Make the connection. Link your story to how an agreement statement. 

“I think we can all agree that time is precious. You want to make money. You are a business owner not a social media guru.”

Be Remarkable. 

Use media (video, audio, images)

 My Concern for Your Problem

If you are using Google reader to consume your news from blogs, you need to know that July 1st is the end of Google Reader. Many people have been looking for alternatives and I’m currently testing two.


The Old Reader

I use both of them for different reasons. They are free and easily allow you to convert the content (RSS feeds) from your Google Reader.

If you aren’t using a reader, you may want to, especially if you are getting too much email. An RSS reader allows you to get regular updates from blogs. They reside in your reader and are there any time you want to read them. If you still don’t “get” RSS, Common Craft created a video that explains it really well. (By the way, Lee Lefevre works for Common Craft- see the connection!

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