Communication


“One sign of an excellent speech? ‘Can people repeat something they heard, word for word?'” – Sam Horn, Intrigue Expert

Neil Gaiman’s commencement speech was an instant classic.

Why?

It’s original, evocative and revealing.

Gaiman confesses that he ignored the wise advice from fellow author Stephen King to “enjoy the ride of his success.”

However, there’s an even more important reason Gaiman’s 20 minute talk has gone viral and been turned into a book which is coming out next week.

The popular author condensed his speech theme into a single sound-bite that is easy to repeat.

Make Good Art.

Think about it.

How many conventions and graduations have you attended? How many presenters and commencement speakers have you heard? Dozens? Hundreds?

Can you repeat ANYTHING they said?

If you can’t; that means they’re out of sight, out of mind. Their message had little or no enduring impact.

What’s an important message you want to share with the world?

If you want people to remember it and act on it; is YOUR responsibility to distill its essence into a repeatable sound-bite.

Successful film-makers know the importance of this.

“Show me the money.” “I’ll be back.” “You can’t handle the truth.” “You’re gonna need a bigger boat.”

You probably remember those movies even though it’s been YEARS since you’ve seen Tom Cruise, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jack Nicholson and Roy Scheder utter those lines in the movies Jerry Maguire, the Terminator, A Few Good Men and Jaws.

Those movies are STILL top-of-mind decades after their release because their screenwriters crafted memorable lines that have legs.

In fact, check out the top movie quotes of all time. Almost ALL are 7 words or less.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AFI’s_100_Years…100_Movie_Quotes

What’s this mean for you?

Look over your upcoming presentation.

Does it have a resounding idea that has been distilled into a pithy 7 words or less?

Have you condensed your theme into a title or sound-bite people can repeat, word for word?

If so, good for you. You have just increased the likelihood listeners will become YOUR word-of-mouth advertisers because they will be able to remember what you said and recommend it to others.

If not, you might want to pick up a copy of POP! and study Section IV on how to be PITHY with its chapters on:

* Make Your Language Lyrical with Alliteration
* Put Your Sound-bite in a Beat to Make it Easy to Repeat
* Make it Sublime with Rhyme

This is not petty. You’re pouring hours (and lots of money?) into designing and delivering a presentation that will hopefully impact everyone in the room.

Why not invest the time and mind to POP! your message into a memorable sound-bite so people are still being positively impacted by it … years after they’re out of the room?

http://www.amazon.com/POP-Create-Perfect-Tagline-Anything/dp/0399533613/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1368223741&sr=1-1&keywords=sam+horn+pop

I hate you

“My eldest daughter told me she hated me when she was in the second grade.”

Bet that got your attention!

Which is the point.

Most articles, blogs and books start off with blah-blah preliminaries to “set the scene.”

Forget that.

Don’t set the scene. Jump into the scene.

That article could have started out predictably with, “This is a review of Sheryl’s Sandberg new book about women in the workplace.”

Yawn. Are you motivated to drop what you’re doing and keep reading?

I didn’t think so.

But instead, that first sentence popped off the page and motivated me to read the rest of this excellent article by Katharine Weymouth of the Washington Post entitled, How Can You LEAN IN If You Don’t Have Anyone to LEAN ON?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/katharine-weymouth-how-do-you-lean-in-when-you-dont-have-someone-to-lean-on/2013/03/22/b117d730-8b24-11e2-b63f-f53fb9f2fcb4_story.html

What are you writing right now? A blog? Article? Report? Book chapter? Web copy? Marketing brochure?

Review your first sentence and paragraph.

Does it set the scene – or jump into the scene?

If you want to have readers at hello, pleasantly surprise them by JUMPING into a dialogue phrase pulled from the story that illustrates your point.

Readers will be intrigued, and they’ll want to know … the rest of your story.

“Instant gratification takes too long.” – Carrie Fisher

As a communication strategist and pitch coach, I often have clients tell me, “You can’t say anything in 10 minutes.”

One client, who was pitching a room full of investors at the Paley Center in New York City, said, “Sam, there’s no way I can explain my company, team credentials, business model and exit strategy in 10 minutes.”

I said, “Kathleen, you don’t have 10 minutes. You’re going at 2:30 in the afternoon. Those investors will already have heard 15 other presenters. By that point, their eyes will be glazed over. You’ve got 60 seconds to get their eyebrows up.”

The good news is, we came up with a 60 second opening that not only got the interest and respect of that audience, it helped Kathleen Callendar of Pharma Jet land millions in funding and become selected as one of Business Week’s Most Promising Social Entrepreneurs of 2010.

(The full story is in this Fast Company article on How to Gain Buy-In to your Idea in 60 Seconds or Less. http://www.fastcompany.com/1751298/how-gain-buy-your-idea-60-seconds-or-less

So, what does that have to do with Super Bowl Sunday?

USA Today editors just selected the top 25 Super Bowl ads of the past 24 years … and all of them are 60 seconds or less.

Chances are, if you’ve seen them, you remember them and remember them … fondly.

They prove you can pack a lot into 60 seconds. You can win buy-in from target decision-makers, tell a compelling story and keep your brand and message top-of-mind, years after the fact.

As journalist Laura Petrecca reports in this article the winning ad “is the 1993 Nothing But Net commercial in which Michael Jordan and Larry Bird shoot an outlandish game of H-O-R-S-E ,” trying to out-do each other to win the right to dine on a McDonald’s Big Mac.”

http://www.freep.com/usatoday/article/1862001

What’s this mean for you?

What’s a communication you’ve got coming up? A communication in which you want to win buy-in from decision-makers and customers?

Don’t waste the first 60 seconds with preliminary, perfunctory remarks. No, “I’m glad to be here ….” Or “When Bob asked me to speak …” or “Before I start, let me …”

In this day and age of instant gratification, you will already have lost the hearts and minds of your audience if you start with … INFObesity.

Instead, jump into something intriguing that gets people’s eyebrows up. It’s the single best thing you can do to make sure your pitch, presentation, commercial or communication wins buy-in for what you care about.

Are you thinking, “I agree with the importance of doing this; I just don’t know how to do it.”

Want good news? My E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST system shows you how to earn the attention and respect of any audience … in 60 seconds or less.

Discover for yourself why these techniques have been won raves from clients around the world (London, Geneva, Toronto and throughout the U.S.) and have helped people receive millions in funding while helping their products, services and business break out instead of blend in.

http://www.intrigueagency.com/products-page/eyebrow/

Purchase it today to instantly have these E.Y.E.B.R.O.W. TEST tips at your fingertips … so you can have people at hello next time you want their attention and respect.

“Never allow a person to tell you no who doesn’t have the power to say yes.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

It happened again.

A consulting client sent me an essay she’d written – and it was packed with track changes from her editor on what she was doing wrong.

There were no specific suggestions on how to make it stronger – just cryptic notes about what she should fix.

This type of punitive editing saps our spirit.

Our author self esteem goes right (write?) out the window.

What’s worse – there wasn’t ONE positive comment from her editor.

Not one, “Well done!”

Not one, “Compelling opening sentence. You had me at hello.”

Not one, “Kudos on this real-life example with dialogue that put me in the scene so I could SEE what you were saying. Do this with the example on page 8 so it’s equally vivid and visually specific.”

It was all critique.

“Change this comma to a semi-colon.” “This paragraph is too long.”

I understand.

Many editors think that’s what they’re getting paid to do. It’s what they were taught, and it’s what their editors have done to their work.

However; this type of negative-focused editing hurts more than it helps.

It’s time for editing to evolve – and it is up to us authors to catalyze the change we wish to see.

I suggest we follow Jack Canfield’s advice.

Jack says, “People treat us the way we teach them to treat us.”

If you have an editor who’s making you feel you can’t do anything right; teach your editor to be a coach not a critic.

Ask that editor to comment on what you did well – so you can do more of it.

Ask your editor to point out examples of sentences in your work that sing – so you feel encouraged instead of discouraged and can’t wait to get back to work.

Ask your editor to be a “yes” editor instead of a “no” editor.

Ask, “Instead of making me feel like I’m a bad writer; please show me how I can be a better writer.”

And yes, (smile), you are welcome to share this with your editor.

People today don’t want more how-to’s.

They want more human experience.

They can find anything they want to know in seconds for free on the web.

They don’t need more information; they need epiphanies.

They aren’t hungry for how-to’s; they’re hungry for heartfelt insights.

I was talking about this with my colleague Matt Leedham, co-founder (with Jaime Willis) of Velocity Consulting and a Director for Entrepreneurs Organization.

Matt just wrote a really honest blog about his “meltdown” while competing in the Luray Sprint Triathlon.

Matt leedham completes the Austin Marathon under 4 hours

Austin Marathon under 4 hours


Matt’s a jock. He told me it wasn’t easy to talk about the unexpected challenges he had during the swim portion of the race. He had walked up to the starting line with confidence, feeling on top of the world. Things didn’t turn out quite the way he planned.

However, in our conversation, Matt and I shared our mutual discovery that when we “dare to share” what REALLY happened – as opposed to what we wish happened – we get visceral responses from our readers, audiences and clients.

It’s like they’re saying, “Finally, someone with the courage to tell the truth.”

Telling the truth often means taking ourselves off a pedestal we may have put ourselves up on.

But pedestals are precarious.

We really don’t serve people when we pretend to be perfect.

In today’s world, we serve ourselves and others when we speak from our heart (not just our head); when we tell it like it is – not like we wish it was.

Do you worry about losing your voice?

No. When I love the music I’m singing, it is just there for me. – Barbara Streisand, in CBS Sunday Morning interview, Aug. 21, 2011

Smart woman.

Do you know how to find your voice?

It what you say and how you say it when you’re in the moment talking about something you love, fear, hate, dread, want or wish for.

It’s your unvarnished truth.

It’s what you say when no one’s looking or listening.

It’s what you say when you’re not trying to be smart or politically correct.

It’s what you say when you’re talking out your feelings without reservation or censoring.

Your voice is in your first draft.

Yet too often we edit out our voice.

We review what we’ve written and start woryying what people will think.

We start trying to impress or we clean up our prose so it’s grammatically correct.

We think about our planned remarks and decide they’re too risky so we dial them back.

Yet when we play it safe and take out the edge, our voice becomes generic.

We start sounding like everyone else.

Because we have taken out the one thing that makes us uniquely interesting.

Are you writing a blog or article today? Working on your manuscript? Planning a presentation?

Dare to be distinct.

Trust what you think and feel have the courage to voice it.

Have the courage to trust what you think and feel – and voice it.


Don’t edit yourself.

Go stream-of-conscious and allow your passionate point of view and take on life to come out and play.

The world is a better place when you have the courage to trust what you think and feel – and voice it.

Go a sentence deeper

Go a sentence deeper

I just had an ultimate compliment from a consulting client.

We’ve been working on his book and he said, “You’re my muse. You always encourage me to go a sentence deeper.”

What he meant by that is that we often gloss over an idea or experience.

When we stay on the surface, people read or hear what we said and move on.

That means it had no enduring impact.

If we want an idea or experience to truly reach our listeners/readers and resonate with them on a visceral/emotional level, we must “go a sentence deeper.”

For example:

How did you FEEL about what happened?

What did you SAY to yourself or others when this happened?

What were the exact words of what they said in response?

How did that impact you, exactly?

Put us there in the scene so we see and feel it right along with you.

Now you are creating interactive communication about the human experience that transcends the page and stage.

What you have written or said just made time and distance a non-issue because we are experiencing what you experienced as if we were “there.”

What are you writing right now? What presentation are you preparing? Go back over it. Did you stay on the surface?

If so, go back and go a sentence deeper.

Everyone will benefit – including you.

“Fear is a pair of handcuffs on your soul.” – Faye Dunaway

I was coaching a client today and she was admitting that, even though she’s a successful international executive, she still gets nervous when she speaks.

She has an important investor pitch coming up next week and she’s afraid she might freeze up.
I asked her, “Are you an athlete?”

“Yes. I swam in college and I run, work out or do yoga several times a week.”

“Good. From now on, you’re going to approach speaking as a sport.”

“What do you mean?”

“There are two kinds of athletes.

Those who, when the game is on the line, say, ‘DON’T give me the ball’ and those who say, ‘Give ME the ball.’

I’m betting you’re the latter.”

She laughed and said, “You’re right.”

“From now on, prep for speaking just like you would for a championship match.”

1. Check out the venue in advance so you have home-field advantage.

When I speak at conferences, I always go to the ballroom the night before (sometimes at midnight) when no one’s around.

I take the stage, throw my heart to the back of the room and give part of my presentation with the same volume of voice and animation I would before an audience of a thousand.

“Why is that so important?”

“You can’t be casual at practice and expect to be brilliant as soon as you start playing for real.

The same is true for speaking. You can’t expect to be your best in a boardroom or ballroom if you haven’t rehearsed with the same intensity and quality you want for the real-thing.

Pop Warner said, “You play the way you practice.”

Practicing the way you want to present where you’re going to present gives you a competitive edge. Other speakers will feel out of place in these unfamiliar surroundings but you’ll be relaxed because you’re on your home turf.

2. Go for a walk/run to get out of your head and into your body.

Have you been told to practice your speech in front of a mirror?

That’s terrible advice!

Why?

Practicing in front of a mirror focuses you on YOU which makes you self-conscious which is the opposite of the stream-of-conscious state you want to be in when you speak. Plus, you want to focus on your audience (not yourself).

The best way to develop the ability to do that is with RWWA.

“What’s that?” she asked.

“You’ve heard of MBWA – Managing By Walking Around – which is when you get out of your office and connect with your front-line employees to find out what’s really going on?

RWWA – Rehearsing While Walking Around – is when you walk-talk your presentation which more closely mimics what will actually be going on when you speak.

I always go for a walk outside the morning of a presentation.

Not only does this kick-in my endorphins and get my oxygen pumping and blood flowing – it aligns left and right brain so I’m at my analytical/creative/energetic best and raring to go.

Plus, looking around at my surroundings while navigating my way and rehearsing my talk is a way to practice multi-focus speaking.

Multi-focus speaking is that state of concentration where you’re sharing your message while observing and adapting to your surroundings – without getting distracted or pulled off topic.

Experienced teachers and champion athletes are pros at multi-focus. A teacher can be writing on the white board and delivering the lesson plan while noticing that Suzie is texting on her (forbidden) cell phone, Nick is sleeping and Vanessa is whispering to Tiffany.

A world-class athlete can process the elements – a change in the wind, a heckler in the third row – without allowing it to break their concentration.

Confident presenters have mastered the ability to stay focused on what they’re saying now and adapt what they’re going to say next . . . in real-time . . . as they evaluate the reactions of their audience and respond accordingly.

For example, If I’m speaking and notice a couple people in the back row checking their email, I might walk towards the back of the room and raise my voice to re-engage them . . . all without losing a beat.

When I suggested this to my client, she said, ‘Sam, I agree with RWWA in theory, but it doesn’t always work in real-life. What if I’m running late and arrive at an event minutes before I’m supposed to speak?”

I asked, “How much money are you asking for?”

“1.5 million.”

“So, you’re asking for more than a million dollars and wouldn’t invest a few hours to prep yourself to increase the likelihood of closing this deal?

You’ve spent months putting this venture together, developing your products, website and team, and wouldn’t do the one thing that could make the difference between you walking in feeling pressured and panicked . . . or walking in feeling poised, professional and powerful?

Your future may rest on whether you get a yes from someone in this room and land funding.

Isn’t it worth arriving early – just like an athlete prepping for the Olympics – so you can acclimate by RWWA which will prepare you to do your best and be your best?

Walking briskly turns panic energy (“What if I forget what I’m going to say?) into pro-active energy (This is how I’m going to keep my cool if my mind goes temporarily blank.)

She protested one last time. “What if I’m still nervous?”

Then, you’re still in your head, THINKING about what YOU want to say and what the audience might think of YOU. This feeds fear which keeps you in neck-up nervousness.

Audiences come in three states of energy – actively resistant, apathetic or eager.

Our goal as a communicator is to have such commanding, convincing, confident energy, it wins over the neutral and resistant individuals and adds to the energy of the fans.

The best way to access and exude that type of ConZONEtration is to immerse yourself in the “one-with-what-you’re-doing-peak-performance-zone state” where there’s no room at the mental inn for doubts.

The best way to do that is to remove the handcuffs of fear that exist in your head and free up flow by embodying your message.

And the best way to embody your message is to immerse yourself in your presentation beforehand by DOING IT and MOVING IT – not standing in front of a mirror and thinking it or reading it.

Want more ways to see speaking as a sport and walk in with the confidence of a champion athlete?

Check out my books What’s Holding You Back? and ConZentrate (both from St. Martin’s Press) which show how to access the exquisite state of confident ConZONEtration where you remain poised under pressure and perform your best.

“The only danger is not to evolve.” – Jeff Bezoz, Amazon.com

How could I have known my whole approach to communication would evolve because of a petite powerhouse named Dr. Betty Siegel?

Here’s the back-story of how I came to believe our traditional, information-based way of communicating is outdated and sorely in need of being overhauled – and came up with a methodology for doing so.

Several years ago, I was asked to be on the closing panel of a major conference held over the holidays. Pulitzer Prize winners, astronauts, political leaders and Nobel physicists were on the panel and in attendance, so I was excited about this opportunity.

The challenge? I had two minutes max to share an intriguing epiphany with the group.

The night before the panel, I skipped the New Years’ celebration to work on my remarks. My son Andrew came back to our hotel room after midnight and found me still up. “Whazzup, Mom?”

“Well, I’ve got something to say, but I know it’s not special.”

“Do what you always tell me to do when my brain’s fried. Get up early in the morning and the ideas will come when you’re fresh.”

“Good advice, Andrew. Thanks.” I set the alarm for 6 am and went to bed.

The next morning, I went in search of some caffeine to kick-start my creativity. I turned around after getting my coffee and bumped into the aforementioned petite powerhouse who was wearing big red glasses. I smiled and said, “Happy New Year.”

She looked at me, eyes bright, and said, “Start to finish.”

I was instantly intrigued. “How did you come up with that great phrase?”

She said, “Want to sit for a spell and I’ll tell you?”

I had a decision to make. Was I supposed to go back to my room and work on my two minutes – or was Dr. Betty Siegel my two minutes?

Suffice it to say, I went with Betty (literally and figuratively).

Betty, President Emeritus of Kennesaw State University, is, quite simply, the best communicator I’ve ever known. She doesn’t tell, she shows. She introduces each idea with a vividly-told, real-life example so you see what she’s saying.

Our conversation not only yielded a fascinating story for my closing remarks and a rewarding friendship; it crystallized the following insight which has forever changed the way I communicate (and hopefully, the way you communicate too.) That insight is:

We live in a society stuffed with information; we’re suffering from info-besity.

We don’t want more information.

We want epiphanies.

And we don’t get epiphanies from wah-wah information.

We get epiphanies from real-life examples that cause the lights to go on and the band to play.

Vividly-told, put-you-in-the-scene examples have the power to turn wah-wah into aha.

As a result of that insight; I’ve developed something called The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule®.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is an evolutionary approach for Socratically engaging people so they’re eager to hear what you have to say next. It “peoples your points” so they’re right-brain vs. strictly neck-up rhetoric (left-brain).

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® creates two-way connection (the ultimate purpose of all communication) because people relate what they just heard to their situations so it applies to them.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® includes the 4 essential elements of communication – but in their proper order and proportion – and it works equally well for written and spoken communication.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® increases real-world results because people are motivated to do something differently . . . not because they have to; but because they want to.

When best-selling author Elmore Leonard keynoted our the Maui Writers Conference, an audience member asked, “Why do people like your books so much?”

He smiled and said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”

Simply stated, the 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® makes you a more compelling communicator because it helps you leave out the parts people skip.

Would you like to know how to capture and keep interest – from start to finish?

Check out my Win Buy-In and my 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® e-book TODAY so you can start using their disruptive techniques to make your information infinitely more intriguing.

“My job is to talk; your job is to listen. If you finish first, please let me know.” – Harry Herschfield

I’ll never forget it.

This was a national conference featuring the big gun keynoters.

Seth Godin. Tom Peters. Jim Collins. Tim Ferris.

They were all there.

Everyone was on the edge of their seats, listening to every word.

Then, a female CEO of a BILLION dollar company was introduced as the next speaker.

She walked to the center of the stage and stood with her feet together and her hands crossed in the . . . Fig Leaf Position.

Mistake #1.

Standing with your feet together keeps you off-balance and makes you look like you’re teetering and going to fall at any second.

Holding your hands in the Fig leaf Position is a defensive posture that makes you look like you have something to hide.

It pulls your shoulders down and collapses them together which creates a Cower stance that makes you look submissive.

Then, she said softly, in a querulous voice, “I’m so happy to be here today. I was telling my grand-daughter . . .”

Mistake #2.

Whether it’s fair or not, people judge our leadership by the volume and tone of our voice.

A meek voice sends the message you have trouble speaking up for yourself.

A soft voice signals you don’t believe you deserve to be heard.

Those are red flags to anyone deciding whether to hire you, promote you or fund you.

Plus, ending your sentences with upward inflection and speaking in a sing-songy “Valley-Girl” voice makes you seem unsure, hesitant, like you’re seeking approval.

Unfortunately for this CEO (and for the audience because she’s a brilliant leader who is respected by her thousands of employees), the laptops and smart-phones came out within minutes. They had concluded she wasn’t worth listening to.

If you’re speaking to a group of sophisticated entrepreneurs and executives, what can you do differently in the first couple minutes to prove you’re worth their valuable time and mind?

Tip 1. Lose the “I hope you like me” Little Girl Voice.

A coquettish voice will undermine the perception you have the clout to lead a company and carry off a multi-million dollar venture.

Instead, do what TV broadcasters are taught to do their first day on the job.

End your sentences with downward inflection to project a voice of authority.

Try it right now.

Imagine you’re pitching to venture capitalists and they’ve asked, “How much money are you seeking?”

Say, “$500,000” with upward inflection at the end.

Hear how it sounds tentative? Like you tossing it out there and HOPING they say yes?

Now say, “$500,000” with downward inflection at the end.

Hear how it comes across with more certainty? Like this is a justifiable figure you deserve to get?

When presenting, don’t use a conversational tone. It’s too casual.

PROJECT your voice so every single person in the room can hear every single word.

Never, ever force an audience member to have to ask, “Could you please speak up? I can’t hear you.”

The truth is, if people have a hard time hearing you, they often just give up and tune out – or start checking their email.

Don’t risk getting tuned out.

Speak out – loud and clear – and with downward inflection (like your favorite current network news anchor) so you convince people you know what you’re talking about.

Tip 2.

When you get to the center of the stage, plant your feet shoulder width apart and bend your knees slightly so you feel and appear grounded.

This atletic stance helps you feel in your body (vs. in your head).

This more-balanced stance helps you stay “rooted” in one spot so you’re less likely to rock or pace.

Nervous movement patterns distract from your credibility because they give the impression you’re flighty and can’t or won’t hold your ground.

Now, hold your hands out in front of you like you’re holdihg a baskeball. This Basketball Position helps you straighten up and stand tall.

Now, pull your shoulders back and hold your head high.

Aaahh . . .that’s better. Feel how this Tower stance makes you look and feel more confident? It gives you the look of a leader.

As discussed in the previous 3 blogs, if you want decision-makers to CARE, you’ve got to show F.L.A.I.R.

Today’s post was about I = INFLECTION and being IN YOUR BODY.

Check out my previous posts to discover how you can strategically kick-off presentations so everyone in the room is motivated to listen up.