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.

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“In influencing others; example is not the main thing.  It’s the only thing.” – Albert Schweitzer

Agreed.

What’s a situation coming up in which you want to influence someone to give you their time, mind or dime?

If you want to capture and keep their attention – if you want to open their mind and change their mind  – don’t open with information.

Open with an example.

In fact, follow Dr. Brene’ Brown’s shining example …

I had the privilege of meeting Dr. Brene’ Brown at a recent Leadership Colloquium at NASA Goddard.

Brene’s TED talk on The Power of Vulnerability is one of the top ten most-downloaded TED videos.

After the first 10 minutes of her NASA presentation, it’s easy to understand why.

She’s disarmingly honest about her journey from being a left-brained researcher who only valued bottom-line facts to discovering the transcendent, whole-hearted, free-flowing love that comes from having children.

What she didn’t anticipate was the fear that comes from being a mom.

She described how she used to stand in her kids’ rooms at night and watch them sleep … and weep.

Why?

She cherished them so much, she was afraid something would happen to them.

She knew this was illogical. They were perfectly healthy, perfectly fine.  Yet there she was … miserable.

She started researching why the emotion of happiness seems to be irrevocably tied with fear – and used an EXAMPLE to open our eyes to how common this phenomenon is.

A family is driving to their grandparents’s house for Christmas.  The parents are uptight because they’re running late.

The kids, sitting in the back seat, start singing Jingle Bells .

The parents realize how ridiculous they’re being and start singing Jingle Bells along with them.

At this point, Brene’ asked the audience, “And then what happened?”

Guess what the majority said??

“They get in a car accident.”

Is that what you thought?

Do you know what that means?

It means, deep down, you believe happiness is fleeting – you believe it is too good to be true.

How about you?  In the midst of things going well, are you, at some level, waiting for the other shoe to drop?

Arrgghh.

Say it ain’t so.

Brene’ went on to explain that, in an effort to protect ourselves against the pain we feel when something goes wrong  … we prepare ourselves by projecting it so we won’t be blindsided when the heartache happens.

Not only does that cut short any joy we might be feeling, that “failure forecasting” increases the likelihood of something going wrong because that’s what we’re focused on.  Then, if something does go wrong, it reinforces our worst fears and proves us “right.” This sets up an emotionally unhealthy spiral where we have even more cause to worry.

Brene’ continued with constructive ways to change this destructive default … if we choose.

Okay, what’s the point?

Look back over this post.

Were you engaged?  Were you thinking about that insight that some people are afraid of happiness – and thinking how it relates to you?

That’s because Brene’s EXAMPLE pulled you in and helped you SEE this situation.

If Brene (or I) had just talked about how some of us are waiting for the other shoe to drop – even when things are going well – that would have been wah-wah rhetoric.  You may not have related to it because it was information.

People today are suffering from InfoBesity.  They don’t want more information.

They can get all the information they want – anytime they want – online for the click of a button.

People want to be intrigued.

And one of the best ways to intrigue people is with EXAMPLES – not information.

Back to your upcoming situation where you’ll be trying to persuade someone to give you their valuable time, attention, respect, business, account or funding.

Don’t start with information.  Start with a real-life example that helps them SEE what you’re saying so they’re experiencing it – not just hearing it.

Be sure to check out Dr. Brene Brown’s website and blog.  Her insights on how we can be wholehearted – instead of going through life half-hearted because we’re protecting ourselves from pain – are brilliant.  http://www.brenebrown.com/

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.

“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.