business communication


“If you stick to what you know; you sell yourself short.” – Carrie Underwood

Do you have an idea you’re pitching? A venture or cause you’re trying to get funded?

What are you going to say in the first 60 seconds to get your busy decision-makers’eyebrows up?

If you stick to what they already know; you’ll sell your idea, venture or cause short because your listeners will have tuned out and moved on.

People are so busy these days, if we don’t pleasantly surprise them in the first minute with something they don’t know – but would like to know – it’s NEXT!

Adrian Ott, an expert blogger for FastCompany.com, interviewed Sam about her innovative approaches to motivating people to give you their valuable time, mind and dime.

What’s something you care about?

If you want other people to care about it, use these techniques on “How To Gain Buy-In To Your Idea in 60 Seconds” to capture your decision-makers’ undivided attention so your idea, venture or cause gets the respect – and buy-in – it deserves.

Here’s that interview – http://www.samhorn.com/media/articles/sam_horn_adrian_ott_interview_gain_buy-in_for_your_idea_in_60_seconds_or_less.htm

“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.

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.

“Remember, you’re a lot more interested in what you have to say than anyone else is.” –
Andy Rooney

Are you going into a meeting today to introduce an idea, request funding or propose a program?

Did you know its success depends on whether you get people’s eyebrows up in the first 60 seconds?

Sam Horn eyebrow test

Sam Horn's The Eyebrow Test®


People at many meetings are either jockeying to get THEIR idea heard – or they’re bored, distracted or just waiting for the meeting to be over so they can go back to work on the UPO’s (Unidentified Piled Objects) stacking up on their desk.

The good news is, you can test in advance whether your idea is going to get any traction.

Just ask a colleague for 60 seconds of their time.

Explain your idea/proposal/request to them . . . using the exact same 60 second opening you’ll use in the meeting.

Now, watch their eyebrows.

If their eyebrows are knit or furrowed, they’re puzzled. They didn’t get it.

And if they didn”t get it, you won’t get it.

Because confused people don’t ask for clarificaiton and they don’t say yes.

You want their eyebrows to go UP. That means they’re intrigued. They want to know more.

That means you just got your idea or request in their mental door.

If what you’re pitching gets their eyebrows up, good for you. That means, “Game’s on.”

If it doesn’t, back to the drawing board.

Or, as comedian George Carlin said, “What did we go back to before there were drawing boards?”

Want specific ways to win buy-in to what you’re proposing?

Email us at Sam@SamHorn.com with The Eyebrow Test® in the subject heading and we’ll send you three ways to get people’s eyebrows up in the first 60 seconds.

Or, purchase a copy of POP!

It has 25 innovative ways to create communication that quickly captures favorable attention from your target customers, investors and decision-makers, has been featured on MSNBC and in the NY Times and Washington Post. Sam’s keynote with these techniques has won raves from convention audiences around the world.

And subscribe to this blog if you’d like additional ways to craft intriguing openings that pass The Eyebrow Test® so people are motivated to give you their valuable time, mind and dime.

“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.

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