business communication


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.

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action Part 3,

By Sam Horn, The IntrigueExpert

This is the final post detailing the excellence in action that Guy Kawasaki demonstrated during his keynote for Ruth Stergiou’s Invent Your Future Conference in NoCA.

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action Part 3, By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

Guy Kawasaki Genius in Action

Actually, there were many more things Guy did extraordinarily well . . . however these blog posts are already long enough.

Want to know what I suggest? Go see Guy in person if you have a chance.

I am a firm believer that our personal and professional impact is directly proportionate to our ability to communicate compellingly and convincingly.

If you’d like to turn no’s into yes’s – if you’d like to win buy-in from the people who have the power to scale your career, buy your products or services or support your message and mission – do yourself a favor and study great communicators like Guy (on the stage) and Seth Godin (on the page).

Then, adopt and adapt (don’t copy) their masterful approaches so you too know how to capture and keep everyone’s attention and respect – from start to finish.

7. Guy featured a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

“Let’s give em something to talk about.” – Bonnie Raitt

Hmmm. Let’s see.  Grateful Dead. Check. Steve Jobs. Check.

Personal examples. Professional examples. Check. Check.

United States anecdotes. International anecdotes. Yep.

Fortune 500 success stories. Small business success stories. Yep. Yep.

Some speakers commit the cardinal sin of focusing solely on a few “favorites.” sports. Kids. Corporate life. That leaves some people out. They may not like sports, don’t have kids or work for themselves.

Guy gave everyone something to “talk about.” By using a wide range of “demographically-correct” reference points, he made sure everyone felt included, honored and acknowledged.

The eclectic mix kept us eager for what’s next. Novelists call this a page-turner. The speaker equivalent is a “seat-edger,” as in, “We were on the edge of our seats the whole time.”

One of the most effective ways Guy modeled this was by using “pulled from the headlines” or “signs on the street” slides to prove his points.

For example, he mentioned he was just in New England checking out colleges with his kids. To illustrate how “disenchantment” can be caused by overcomplicating things, he popped up a Smartphone photo showing a sign from an Ivy League university campus that went into great detail on how to . . . (wait for it) cross the street.

Embedding his point in a recent, first-person story lent instant credibility to his case because it had currency. This isn’t
tired shtick – it just occurred yesterday or last week.

And he did this with EACH of his points – providing a “couldn’t see it coming” reference that explored the point in a compelling, convincing and creative way.

If you’re about to give a presentation, go back over your planned remarks. Double check that you have balanced gender, age, ethnic, work-life, geographic and industry diversity.

And, hold up a prop! Make it show not tell. Sharing an article from THAT day’s newspaper that’s relevant to your topic will charm your audience and turn “blah-blah-blah” into “rah-rah-rah.”

8. Guy was in his “Tony Bennett” zone.

“I have found if you love life, life will love you back.” – Arthur Rubenstein

Have you ever had the distinct privilege of seeing and hearing Tony Bennett in concert? If not, do yourself a favor and grab a ticket for his next concert in your area.

Tony Bennett is the consummate entertainer. Not just because he has a voice like “butta” and not just because he’s a great song stylist.

It’s because Tony Bennett LOVES HIS AUDIENCE . . . and isn’t afraid to show it. When singers (or speakers) love what they’re doing, we love ‘em back.

Tony may have sung I Left my Heart in San Francisco a thousand times but you’d never know it. He gifts each audience by singing that song as if for the first time.

What many speakers don’t understand is that our audiences will feel the way we feel.

We won’t have fun if you’re not having fun. If you’re not happy to be up there – we’re not happy to be down here.

We want speakers who welcome the opportunity to add value and who show up fully present with an unapologetic, unabashed personality.

Too many speakers dread speaking. I remember attending a book-author event in Washington, DC , where a famous actress who’d just written a memoir got up and said, “I rather be dead drunk in a gutter than standing up here speaking to you today.”

Yikes. How do you think that made us feel?

Guy brought his A game and his whole self to the party. Guy was in his body, in his element and in the moment. And when speakers invest themselves 100%– we feel lucky to be along for the ride – because it’s a great ride.

9. Guy replaced wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

“The world is not made up of atoms; it’s made up of stories.” – Muriel Rukeyser

Actually, as explained in a recent Newsweek cover story entitled Brain Freeze, the world is not made up of atoms; it’s
made up of information. And we’re drowning in it.

We don’t want more information. We want epiphanies.  And we don’t get epiphanies from wah-wah information. We get them from “WWW” stories” that vividly portray Who, Where and What was said.  WWW stories are pulled from real-life – NOT from the internet or from your colleague’s books.

If we wanted stories from the Internet or from your colleagues
books – we’d go online or go buy those other people’s books.

When you speak, we want to hear what you think, what you have experienced, what you have gleaned. And we want you to re-enact those lessons-learned so we’re in the room with you as they happened.

We want you to make your story our story by putting us in the story. You can do this by putting yourself back in the moment
and place it happened and describing:

WHO? Describe the individuals involved with specific physical and emotional details so we can SEE him or her in our mind’s
eye and know what’s going through their mind.

WHERE? Put us in the room, on the plane or in the pool (or as Nancy Duarte – author/speaker on Resonance
did so vividly in her keynote that day – put us on Half Dome). Make us a fly on the wall so we’re standing right next to you.

WHAT WAS SAID? Re-create and re-quote the dialogue so it’s as if it’s happening right NOW.

For example, Guy shared a story where he was speaking for a client in South America and realized, shortly before his talk, that he had a washing machine made by this manufacturer.

Understanding this was an “enchantment opportunity,” he quickly texted his sons and asked them to take a picture of the family washing machine and send it to him so he could incorporate it into his program.

Here’s where Guy got it right (yet again.)

Instead of just mentioning his sons sent him the photos – he put up a slide that showed the actual back and forth texting from his sons. He talked us through the chain of events and turned it into an unfolding mystery that brought it alive and brought it home. Guy’s message had the ring of truth – because it was true. Kudos.

10. Guy created the exquisite state of entrainment.

“What did the meditation teacher tell the hot dog vendor? Make me one with everything.” – poster in yoga studio

Have you ever experienced that lovely peak performance state of flow?

If you’re an athlete, maybe you were immersed in your golf, tennis or basketball game and played out of your head (literally and figuratively).

If you play an instrument, perhaps you lost yourself in the music and weren’t even aware of the passage of time.

If you’re an artist or author, the world slipped away and you were completely absorbed In your painting, dancing or writing.

That flow sate – when we are one with what we are doing – is also called “entrainment.”

And Guy created it. There was no shuffling in the seats. No checking of watches or email. We got swept up in his world.

Everyone who’s experienced this state of flow knows it is a powerful and persuasive high. Everyone was bliss-fully entrained– or as Guy calls it – enchanted.

As The Intrigue Expert and author of POP!, ConZentrate and Win Buy-In, I have studied the art and science of entrainment for the past 20 years.

What I have learned is that while we can’t force it, we can facilitate it.

The ten ingredients above all combine to create entrainment.

The good news is, you can too.

Yes, Guy is a master at what he does. The good news is that speaking eloquently and “intriguingly” is a skill that can be acquired. I know this because I’ve helped many entrepreneurs and executives create more compelling, convincing communications.

We can all get better at this because these are replicable steps.

Do you have a presentation coming up? Use these 10 points as a checklist while preparing your communication so your audience will be seat-edgers.

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds

1. Have us at hello by leaving out the parts people skip.

2. Engage everyone’s head and heart with facts and feelings.

3. Condense your concepts into one-of-a-kind sound bites.

4. Have the courage to be counter-intuitive.

5. Honor your family, mentors and contributors.

6. Use the power of three to create oratorical flow.

7. Feature a kaleidoscopic mix of reference points.

8. Get in your “Tony Bennett” zone.

9. Replace wah-wah information with real-world WWW stories.

10. Create entrainment by getting in the flow.

If you do these things, your audience will care about what you care about. They’ll be engaged and enchanted from start to finish. You will have delivered substantive value and they’ll be more likely to buy into and act on your ideas and initiatives.

And isn’t that a primary reason we communicate?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert, and author of POP! and Win Buy-In, is an award-winning communication strategist who’s worked with clients including Cisco, Intel and NASA.

Her work has been featured on NPR, MSNBC, BusinessWeek.com and in Readers Digest, the Washington Post, New York Times and Investors Business Daily.

She helps people crystallize their strategic, signature message and get it out of their head and where it can make a positive difference for others and a profitable living for themselves. . www.SamHorn.com Sam@SamHorn.com

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action Part 2,

By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

This is Part 2 of a 3-part series in which I share the specific things GuyKawasaki did so well in his keynote presentation at the Invent Your Future conference at the Santa Clara Convention Center in California.

You might want to have an upcoming presentation in mind while you’re reading this to get maximum benefit.

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action - Sam Horn


What’s a situation you’ve got coming up in which you’ll be asking for approval, funding, support or a yes?

Who’s the decision-maker? Who has the power or authority to give you the green light or the support you need to move ahead with this idea or initiative?

What’s that person’s frame of mind? Or who will be in the audience and how receptive or resistant do you anticipate they’ll be?

Factor that into how you design and deliver your remarks – and use these techniques that were so masterfully modeled by Guy – to increase the likelihood you’ll have them at hello.

4. Guy had the courage to be counter-intuitive.

“Only dead fish swim with the stream all the time.” – Linda Ellerbee

The quickest way to lose an audience is to state the obvious.

The quickest way to engage an audience is to state the opposite.

Think about it. If you agree with everything a speaker says, why listen? The speaker is just confirming what you already know; not stretching you or teaching you anything new.

For example, he made a flat out recommendation, “EVERY ONE should go see the movie Never Say Never with Justin Bieber.”

As you can imagine, that got a “Really?!” response from this high-powered group of entrepreneurs and executives.

He then backed up his claim by saying, “It will teach you everything you need to know about marketing. Watch how Justin goes into the crowd before concerts and gives tickets to little girls who don’t have tickets.
Watch how. . . . “

He then upped the ante by promising, “If you don’t like the movie, I’ll give you your money back.” THAT’s putting a stake in the ground.

We appreciate speakers who have a passionate point of view – who dare to address (vs. tip toe around) the elephants in the room. Speakers who challenge our assumptions and admit the emperor has no clothes cause us to rethink what we “knew to be true.” They serve us at a higher level because we walk out wiser than we walked in.

5. Guy honors his family, mentors and contributors.

I want compassion to be the new black.” – American Idol judge Steven Tyler

Guy began by acknowledging a mentor in the audience, Marylene Delbourg-Delphis, who encouraged him to write. He frequently referenced colleagues including a special shout out to:

Facebook marketing guru Mari Smith in her trademark turquoise

Guy talked openly about his love for his wife, kids and parents and shared several “from the home front” stories of neighborhood hockey games, backyard bar-b-ques, etc.

What’s that got to do with anything? We like people who like their families.  In fact, novelist James Rollins, (NY Times bestselling author of Amazonia, etc.) told me he’s researched the ten best ways to create likable characters. Guess what #1 was? “Being kind to kids and animals, in particular, dogs.”

Simply said, our heart goes out to people who are compassionate.
This wasn’t contrived on Guy’s part. It’s simply who he is.

Many speakers think they have to be “serious” when speaking in business situations. Guy modeled that speaking affectionately about who and what has influenced us “warms up” a talk and establishes that all-important likability. He showed that not can we embody intellect and emotion – it’s more powerful and persuasive when we do.

6. Guy used The Power of Three to create oratorical flow.

“There’s a kind of ear music . . . a rhythmic synchronicity which creates a kind of heartbeat on the page.” – Allan Gurganus

Orators have known for centuries that communicating things in threes sets up a rhythmic flow that makes our message reverberate.

Furthermore, listing three real-world examples fleshes out your points and increases the odds every person will relate to at least one of your samples.

For example, Guy showcased Amazon.com, Zappos and Nordstrom on a slide to illustrate benchmarks of mutual trust.

He then went deeper by citing empirical evidence that showed how each of these companies have created a culture of mutual trust. But giving varied, yet specific examples (instead of one vague, sweeping generalization), we GOT what he meant.

No puzzled looks – no one left hanging.

For example, Amazon has a policy that says you can return an E-book in 7 days if you don’t like it. As Guy said,
most people can read a book in 7 days so that’s trust.

Next Guy asked, “Who would have believed a few years ago that hundreds of thousands of women would buy shoes online . . . WITHOUT TRYING THEM ON?!” What makes that possible is Zappos  visionary policy of paying for shipping both ways. No risk; all reward.

Nordstrom, of course, is famous for pioneering a generous refund policy that has proven over time that most people will honor the “We trust you” policy which offsets the few who take advantage of it.

Want more examples of how Guy Kawasaki hit it out of the park at the Invent Your Future Conference with his Enchantment keynote?

Sam Horn, Guy Kawasaki and Ruth Stergiou at the Invent Your Future conference in Silicon Valley

Ruth Stergiou, Guy Kawasaki and Sam Horn


Check the next blog for the final 4 ways Guy practiced what he taught.

Guy Kawasaki . . . Genius in Action,

By Sam Horn, The Intrigue Expert

 “It’s not enough to be the best at what you do; you must be perceived to be the only one who does what you do.” – Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead

I’m always keeping my antenna up for people who are one-of-a-kind at what they do.

I had the privilege of seeing one in action last week.

As The Intrigue Expert and a communication strategist for the past 25 years; I’ve seen and given thousands of presentations. (Really).

So, when I say Guy Kawasaki’s keynote at the Invent Your Future conference in Silicon Valley was one of the best presentations I’ve ever experienced, that’s saying something.

I was compelled to take notes because it’s a privilege to watch a master in action.

I shared my observations with Guy afterwards and am sharing them here so you can learn from his shining example and adopt/adapt some of his approaches so you can enchant (and intrigue) your future audiences.

Here’s why Guy’s keynote Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Action was a perfect 10.

Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted) -sam horn

Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted)

Please note: I’ve distilled this debrief of his brilliant presentations into three blog posts. Check back the next couple days to read and reap additional techniques.

      1.   Guy had us at hello.

“You’ve got to be a good date for the reader.” – Kurt Vonnegut

No perfunctory opening remarks. That would have been predictable and predictable is boring.

Guy pleasantly surprised everyone by starting with an amusing riff about how most speakers run long and no one’s ever angry at a speaker for ending early so he was going to jump right into things.

Guy knows people are BBB – (Busy, Bored or Been there-heard that) and that we make up our minds in the first 60 seconds whether someone is worth our valuable time, mind and dime.

He earned our good will in the first few minutes by being a “good date” and by kicking off with humor vs. the old-fashioned “Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em approach ” which would have had us reaching for our smart phones.

Bestselling author Elmore Leonard gave a keynote at the Maui Writers Conference (which I emceed for 17 years.) During the Q & A, a participant asked, “Why are your books so popular?” “Dutch” smiled and said, “I try to leave out the parts people skip.”

Guy was instantly popular because he left out the parts people skip.

      2.    Guy engaged our head and heart – our left and right brain – with facts and feelings.

“I never developed a plan for where I was going. I just counted on one interesting job segueing into the next. I let the universe do its work.” – Bernadette Peters

Any extreme is unhealthy. Many speakers (think engineers, IT professionals, physicians, professors, etc.) focus primarily on data, theories and facts. This makes for a lopsided speech because it’s long on logic but short on interest.

Other presenters (think motivational speakers) share inspiring stories but there’s no “meat” – no tangible takeaways we can apply to reap real-world results.

Guy was a sublime balance of head and heart. He let us know from the get-go he’d distilled his presentation into ten insights and 45 minutes.

People love top ten lists because it indicates you’ve done the homework for us and edited the superfluous, which means we’ll be hearing only the most salient points, the best of the best.

Anxiety is defined in two words: “not knowing.” If we don’t know how long this is going to take or the format, we may resent the speaker because, in a way, they’re keeping us in the dark and holding us hostage.

Covering 10 points (or 7 steps or 6 keys or whatever) in a specified amount of time builds pace and momentum and keeps a speaker on track because you don’t have time to ramble. Logical left-brainers think “Oh, good. This is clearly going to be bottom-line and a good use of my time because it’s measurable and replicable.”

Furthermore, a 10 point plan provides one of the quickest organizational constructs known to humankind because it provides an easy-to-understand-and-follow pattern. Listeners feel they’re in “the Allstate Plan” (they’re in good hands) and feel well-led as one interesting point segues into the next.

Better yet, Guy balanced rhetoric (words) with photos (senses) throughout his presentation. Everyone was drawn in (and enchanted) because he “peopled his points.” His beautifully produced slides featured intellectually satisfying ideas, visually stunning images and named individuals which produced a holistic sense of symmetry. Well done!

      3.    Guy condensed his concepts into one-of-a-kind sound bites.

“    Remember, you’re more interested in what you have to say than anyone else.” – Andy Rooney, 60 Minutes

“Invoke reciprocity”.

“Conduct a ‘Premortum.”

“Incur a Debt.”

“Frame Thy Competition.”

“Separate the Believers.”

These are just a few of Guy’s featured sound-bites (and chapter titles).

How could you NOT want to know more?

Guy got his ideas in our mental front door because he was not content to be common.

Instead of lazily sharing platitudes and clichés (“Make it a win-win. It’s all about team.”), he coined first-of-their-kind phrases that got our eyebrows up.

(Side note: What’s The Eyebrow Test? It is a technique described in my book POP! that gives you a way to test how compelling your communication is . . anywhere, anytime . . . in 5 seconds . . . for free.

Eyebrow Test? It is a technique described in my book POP!

The goal is to get their eyebrows UP

You don’t have to convene a focus group and spend thousands of dollars to determine whether your idea is commercially-viable.

Simply tell someone your main point (or your elevator speech, business name, book title, the first 60 seconds of your pitch/presentation, or the first paragraph of your marketing copy) . . . and watch their eyebrows.

If their eyebrows knit or furrow, it means they’re confused. They didn’t get it. And if they didn’t get it, you won’t get it.

The goal is to get their eyebrows UP.

Try it right now. Lift your eyebrows. Do you feel intrigued? Curious? Like you want to know more?

THAT’s your goal as a communicator – to get the eyebrows up of busy, distracted decision-makers because it means you just got your message in their mental door.)

Guy’s succinct sound-bites made his content POP! Because no matter how many books we’ve read or seminars we’ve attended, we’d never heard this before.

Comedian Jonathan Winters said, “I have a photographic memory. I just haven’t developed it yet. By developing original take-aways and NURDS (new words like Premortum), Guy made his content memorable and sticky.

Unique sound-bites give his content a long tail of influence. People love “the next new thing” and are more likely to share freshly-phrased ideas around the water-cooler – which means they’ll become Guy’s tribe and take his work viral by becoming his voluntary word-of-mouth ambassadors.

Phrases like “invoke reciprocity” are also monetizable and merchandisable.

People will pay for refrigerator magnets (or coffee mugs or t-shirts) with catchy phrases like this. This keeps you and your proprietary ideas “in sight-in-mind” with your target customers which gives your material even longer legs. It’s all good.

Check the next blog to discover more ways Guy demonstrated
platform brilliance.

During a recent Win Buy-In: Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything in 60 Seconds workshop I gave in Europe, a participant raised his hand and asked, “What can we do if we anticipate our decision-maker is going to say no? Do you have a way to turn that into a yes?”

“Certainly. What do you have in mind?”

“Well, my son is on a traveling soccer team. We just hired a professional player to coach his team and we need to raise money for his salary.”

“So, how are you planning to do that?’

“Well, we’re going to approach our local bookstore, but we know the owner gets hit up for donations all the time.”

“Good for you. You’re already half way to winning buy-in because you’ve already put yourself in the shoes of your decision-maker and read his mind.”

Sam Horn Turn No into Yes

Make it easy for him to say yes.


“What do you mean?”

“Ironically, the key to getting a yes is to ask yourself, ‘Why will they say no?”

“Why is that so important?”

“If you don’t voice your decision-makers’ objections right at the start, they won’t be listening to you – they’ll just be waiting for you to stop talking so they can tell you why this won’t work.”

“How can I do that in this situation?”

“Let’s read the mind of this bookseller. The good news is, I know this industry pretty well because I Emceed the Maui Writers Conference for 17 years (MWC was to the publishing industry what Cannes is to the film industry). I know how booksellers think and what’s important to them.”

He said, “Ok, how do they think and what’s important to them?

“What’s important to every retail business owner – whether that’s a bookstore, dry cleaner, florist or restaurant – is having paying customers onsite or online buying their services and products.

What they don’t like is people taking up their valuable work time asking them for money without offering something in return.”

“That makes sense. How do I do that?”

“Here’s how. When you walk into the store, wait until the owner is finished taking care of paying customers so you’re not pulling him away from his #1 priority.

Then, make sure the first words out of your mouth are, “I know you’re busy, and may I have 3 minutes of your time?”

“Three minutes?!”

Three minutes of your time?

Three minutes of your time?

“Yes, putting a time parameter around your request immediately lets the owner know you’re aware of his busy schedule. It increases the likelihood he’ll give you his time of day.”

“Then what?”

“Use the magic words, ‘I can only imagine . . . ‘ as in “I can only imagine how many times you get asked for donations by local organizations.”

“What does that do?”

“He’s probably too polite to mention it, but it lets him know you know the school band, scout troop and local charities are constantly asking for donations.

It shows you’re not just thinking of what you want, you’re empathizing with what it must be like to be put in this challenging situation where he’s pressured to give to every worthy cause that walks in his door.”

“What do I say next?”

“Immediately jump in to how you’re going to make this a win for him. Say, ‘So I’d like to propose an event that draws people to your store, boosts your sales and gives you lots of positive press.”

The participant smiled and said, “That probably would get his interest.”

“You’re right. It at least motivates him to keep listening because this time-sensitive approach is so rare and welcome.

Then say, “I’d be glad to arrange for a professional soccer player who’s written a successful book to appear at your store on the day of your choice for a book signing/mini-seminar. In fact, in exchange for becoming a financial sponsor for our youth soccer team, we’d be glad to put your logo on our team jerseys.”

Soccer Pro book signing, good for the Pro and good for the store. -sam horn

Soccer Pro book signing

The participant asked, “What if he isn’t convinced?

Anything else I can do to turn a potential no into a yes?”

“Yes, continue to put yourself in his shoes. Ask yourself, ‘What matters to him? What else would make it easy for him to say yes?’ Chances are, asking these questions will help you think of even more ways to make it a double win.”

The participant thought for a moment and then said, “I know. My friend is a reporter for the local paper. We could ask her to interview the soccer pro and cover this event so the bookseller gets lots of publicity. He could put the clipping up in his store to show how he supports his community.”

“Great, but don’t stop there. Keep brainstorming. Anything else?”

His eyes lit up. “Yah. One of our team parents owns his own internet marketing company. I bet he’d be glad to blog about this and promote it to his social media network so even more people are aware of it and show up.”

“Good idea. That will put even more ‘cheeks in the seats.’ Keep thinking, because the more ways you can make this a win for him, the more likely he is to say yes.

For example, if one of your team parents is a good photographer, you can sweeten the pot by saying you’d be happy to arrange for someone to take photos of the soccer pro with customers in front of the bookstore’s logo for $5 a pop. That money will go toward the soccer team, making it even more of a successful fund-raiser . . . plus, it would give the bookseller a long tail of good will because those photos will stay on people’s refrigerators for a long, long time.

Notice, all of the above actions benefit the bookseller and your son’s team. That’s the beauty of this approach. When you create a win for everyone involved; you’re more likely to get a yes.”

Want more ways to quickly win buy-in to a priority project?

Contact us at Cheri@SamHorn for details on Sam Horn’s upcoming teleseminar on Win Buy-In: Get Anyone Intrigued in Anything . . . in 60 Seconds.

“If you don’t know where you’re going; you’ll end up somewhere else.” – Yogi Berra

Thanks to Rhonda Abrams (small business columnist for USA Today and CEO of The Planning Shop – http://www.rhondaonline.com/ ) for asking me to conduct my POP! Your Pitch: Win Buy-in to Your Business in 60 Seconds workshop for the British Airways Face2Face competition last week. http://businessconnect.ba.com/contest/

What a pleasure it was coaching these 250 non-profit leaders and small business owners in the halls of the NYC event and at 30,000 feet on our chartered flight to London.

Our focus was on how to clearly, confidently and compellingly communicate the essence of your work so you can answer the question, “What do you do?” in a way that gets people’s eyebrows up (a sign of curiosity).

Check out these excellent articles which capture what great productive fun it was swapping best-practice tips with 250 smart, talented social entrepreneurs.

These articles also showcase the three finalists

Pencils of Promise is committed to supporting a world with greater educational opportunity for all.

Adam Braun Pencils of Promise is now a global movement.

Adam Braun of Pencils of Promise (the ultimate winner of the competition), Danae Ringelmann of IndieGoGo and Chris Eilers of Dunn Brothers Coffee.

All three are shining examples of visionaries who have built add-value organizations that are making a positive difference for everyone involved.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/steve-strauss/i-have-seen-the-future-of_2_b_819088.html?ref=twitter

http://blogs.wsj.com/in-charge/2011/02/03/first-stop-london-next-stop-the-world/

http://www.portfolio.com/companies-executives/2011/02/03/millennial-entrepreneur-wins-british-airways-face-of-opportunity-faceoff

During one of our brainstorming sessions, several of the contestants weren’t able to articulate their competitive edge.

I told them, “It’s hard to have a competitive edge if you don’t know exactly how you’re different.”

One asked, “How do you figure that out?”

I asked her, “You’ve heard of having your ducks in a row? Well, before you can crisply communicate your competitive advantage – you need to have your ‘W’s’ in a row.”

“What are those?” she asked.

They are the W words journalists use to figure out where they want to go with an article or interview so they can stay “on purpose.”

Print out this blog post with the W10 Form below and take it to lunch with you. Or, print out several copies and ask key employees to fill them out so you can discuss these at an upcoming staff meeting.

POP! Create the Perfect Pitch, Title and Tagline for Anything

Hailed as one of the best business books of the year


Taking time to answer the following 10 questions (excerpted from Chapter 2 of my POP! book) can help you clarify where you’re first-of-your-kind and worth trying and buying.

W#1. What am I offering? What is my product, service or organization?

W#2. Who is my target audience, customer or decision-maker?

W#3. What problem(s) do they have that my business solves? What keeps them up at night? What worries them, frustrates them, confounds them?

W#4. What do my target customers want or need that no one else offers?

W#5. What specific, measurable action do I want people to take? Schedule a follow-up meeting? Visit our website? Buy our product? Hire us as their consultant?

W#6. What objections or resistance might people to have to my offering, products or services? Why will they say no or opt out?

W#7. What do I say/do to address and neutralize those objections so they’re a non-issue?

w#8. Who are my competitors and how am I different or better than them?

W#9. What do all my competitors have in common? How do I zig where they zag? How does our organization do the opposite of the obvious?

W#10. Who am I (or who is my organization) What are our strengths and unique abilities? What is our tangible track record of proven, measurable results?

When you (and your team) can answer each of the above “W” questions in a clear, crisp 60 seconds, you will know exactly why it’s in people’s best interests to do business with you.

And that, my friends, is a competitive advantage.

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

Several years ago I was selected to be on the closing panel of a conference held over the holidays.

Pulitzer Prize winners, astronauts, Fortune 100 CEO’s and Nobel physicists were on the panel and in the audience, 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 a petite powerhouse with big red glasses. I smiled at her 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 set 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).

That conversation not only yielded a fascinating story for my closing remarks, it was the start of a rewarding friendship with the irrepressible Dr. Betty Siegel, President Emeritus of Kennesaw State University.

Betty is, quite simply, the best story-teller I’ve ever known. She doesn’t tell, she shows. She illustrates each idea with a vividly-told, real-life example so we see what she’s saying.

My time with Betty crystallized the following epiphany which, after 20+ years as a professional speaker and published author, has changed the way I communicate:

People don’t want more information – they want epiphanies.

And people don’t get epiphanies from ideas.

They get epiphanies from vividly-told, real-life examples that cause the lights to go on and the band to play.

As a result of that encounter; I’ve developed a Disruptive Communication Manifesto called The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® that I now use in all my written and spoken communication and recommend to all my consulting clients and audiences.

Sam Horn- The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is a way to make inanimate information come alive and create a two-way connection

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is a way to make inanimate information come alive

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule is an evolutionary way to instantly engage people so they relate what we’re saying to their circumstances and choose to do something differently – not because they have to – because they want to.

The 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® is a way to capture and keep people’s valuable attention – from start to finish.
Want to discover exactly how to use Sam Horn’s 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule® to make your ideas come alive so you transform information into epiphanies?

Contact us at Sam@SamHorn.com with “Sam Horn’s 70 – 10 – 10 – 10 Rule®” in the subject heading and we’ll be happy to send info on how to order that e-book, tele-seminar, MP3.

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