Think of a 500-piece puzzle. Heck, think of a 50-piece puzzle. Either way you begin by dumping out all of those pieces on a table and finding the four corners. You build from there.
Same principle applies to the way you communicate. Whether you are delivering a company business update, or you’re on a panel about how Wall Street evaluates your organization, or you’re writing an email – you begin by developing your “four corners”.
You need to construct these four “corners” to get heard above the noise ➜
🎤 CORNER #1 — Your Audience: Who are you talking to and what do they need/want to know? How can you meet and exceed their expectations?
🎤 CORNER #2 — Your Statement of Purpose: What’s your overarching theme? If this is a book, what’s the title? If this is an email, what’s your concise subject header?
🎤 CORNER #3 — Your Return on Investment: What’s the ROI for your listeners … at your quarterly town hall, in a zoom meeting, on the golf course, or by email? Will you save them time or money? Will you increase their competitive advantage? Will you make them happier or stop their headaches? Sharing your ROI creates buy in.
🎤 CORNER #4 — Your Call To Action: After listening to you or reading your digital info what do you want them to do, think or feel? What are your “next steps”? Without a “call to action” you have wasted everyone’s time, including yours.
Your next steps: When you communicate formally, informally or electronically, develop your Statement of Purpose, ROI, and Call to Action while knowing exactly who your audience is and what they want.
The trailblazer of interviewing, who won 12 Emmy awards over a 5-decade career, teaches us 3 master lessons on how to leverage any conversation to your advantage.
“Barbara Walters’s superpower was fairness”, writes Matt Zoller Seitz (critic & writer for Vulture and New York). He continues, “Her subjects trusted her to give them as fair a shake as she could, even if she disapproved of what they did, said, or stood for.”
She exemplified an open mind and the ability to listen to the nuance of any situation.
“Barbara Walters, in my estimation, really has the quality of reaching through to the person,” Mike Wallace said. “She will put the person sufficiently at ease and it’s a remarkable gift.”
Looking at her interviews from every U.S. president and first lady from the Nixons to the Obamas to a wide range of celebrities and sports figures she creates rapport through her content and delivery.
They said yes to her when they wouldn’t say yes to anyone else because they liked the atmosphere Walters created onscreen.
Trust requires these three components working together: trust in yourself, trust in the process, and do your homework.
Walters nails this triad. And THEN she goes after the tough questions!
Excerpt from a Walters’ interview, “You’re a New York Times best-selling author, you’re an accomplished and celebrated concert pianist, and a three-time Academy Award–winning actor. Why the porn?’”
Ok – she also plays into the subject’s ego. She usually gave three compliments, and then went in for the kill.
Barbara Walters, who died recently at the age of 93, left a legacy about how to set the stage for a meaningful dialogue.
A client bought a new mattress and decided to take part in the mattress company’s focus group about the experience.
“Why did you buy this mattress?”, they asked. Reasonable question! My client answered, “I moved.” What she did not say was that she moved due to a relationship break up.
“How did you feel about the price of the mattress?”, they asked. Reasonable question! My client answered, “It was a fair price.” What she did not say was that she knew someone at the mattress company that extended an employee discount.
You never hear the whole truth.
The unsaid answers that my client did not share would have given more accurate information.
How can you glean more transparent data at exit interviews, strategic meetings, and annual reviews? OR… any day/time of the week?!
Listen between the lines.
The most effective communicators know how to use every tool at their disposal.
Ask questions and go three deep. Explore beyond the first answer given.
Observe nonverbal behavior. Look at gestures, stance, tone of voice.
Have an approachable attitude. Be present and focused on the other.
Smile. Always a good idea (but you don’t need to grin like the village idiot).
Use good eye contact. Be inclusive and look at everyone if there is more than one person involved.
You may still not hear the whole truth; but you’ll net a more transparent interaction.
Add “credibility sprinkles” to increase your “trust index”
Tell your team your ROI – what’s in it for them
Hard to choose. All of the above are crucial for your success as a presenter.
But… one other item goes at the very top.
Karen with Carol Kozloski @ BNSF Railway Workshop
Thank you, BNSF Railway and Carol Kozloski, for modeling that Top Priority Item when I presented my workshop to your BNSF Railway team.
Safety. Safety comes first above all other matters. For the first 10 minutes, BEFORE I was introduced, Carol shared safety protocol precautions.
1st – Carol shared where the exits were and where we would go if we were to be evacuated.
2nd – Carol appointed a CPR certified attendee that would be ready to provide CPR if necessary.
3rd – Carol appointed someone else to be the 911 phone caller if needed. NOTE: if you don’t appoint this one person, then everyone might be calling 911 creating more chaos.
4th – Later on, in our ½ day program, the CPR appointee had to leave and another person was designated.
Fortunately we did not need to use these safety measures. But I’ve never felt safer.
Emergencies I’ve experienced during other speaking engagements:
An audience member faints, falling on the floor needing medical assistance.
Fire alarms going off.
Your responsibility as the presenter
My client showed the way for a safe and successful morning. However, in my 25+ years of speaking all over the place, this was my first time to observe excellent safety precautions shared in advance.
Your responsibility as the speaker/leader (when you don’t have the brilliance of my BNSF Railway client) is to coordinate with your meeting organizer (if there is one) OR do your own Safety Protocol Plan prior to your event using the list above. Because YOU are the one on the stage with the mic.
You might say, “It’s just a word!” And I’ll respond, “I’m in the little things mean a lot business, and what you say to others AND yourself makes a difference.
Two words can mean the same thing. Yet one word choice brings out the worst and the other creates positive energy.
Words to avoid and why
Negative word: nervous vs Positive word: excited
In a past blog about handling public speaking anxiety I share a study on changing your self-talk from “I’m nervous” to “I’m excited”. This study proves that this slight tweak will improve your speaking confidence. After all, your body does the same adrenaline dance for both “nervous” and “excited”; but your head game goes in a better direction using “excited”.
Negative word: fee vs Positive word: investment
You are in sales! You may be the CEO, or the General Counsel, or the CFO and your sales team is in another department… but you are always selling. Rather than talk about “fees” for your clients, use the word “investment”. My clients hear the following phrase: “Your project investment is xx.” They never hear the word, “fee”.
Other positive vs negative word connotation examples
Easygoing vs Lazy
Confident vs Arrogant
Value driven vs Cheap
Curious vs Nosy
Dedicated vs Stubborn
Bonus negative/positive word choice
Holocaust survivor & Texan of the Year in 2019, Max Glauben (of blessed memory), inspired this blog. His recent obituary shares that he helped co-found the Dallas Holocaust Museum, originally housed in the basement of the Jewish Community Center (JCC).
I was on the Board of the Dallas Holocaust Museum for 16 years and I hated one of the words in the above paragraph. And everyone on the board knew it!
Don’t say “basement”, say “lower level”!
So, for the record, the Dallas Holocaust Museum, now a beautiful & meaningful stand-alone museum in Dallas’ historic West End, originated on the lower level of the JCC.
Can you add to this word choice list?
Think about your word choices and respective connotations. What words enhance or detract from your message? Your word choice makes a difference to your listeners and YOU.
Author: Karen Cortell Reisman is Founder of Speak For Yourself®, a communication consulting firm, and the author of 2 books on how to communicate. She lives in Dallas, Texas and is value driven (not cheap).
Hybrid meetings “are easy to do poorly and hard to do well.” Harvard Business Review
Because you preside over and/or attend these meetings all the time we’ve blogged about 3 Best Practices for Hybrid Meetings. Here are three more Hybrid Meeting Engagement Tips to maximize your return.
Hybrid Meeting Best Practice #4 – Engage both in-person and remote participants
Ask yourself, “What do your remote participants need to see?” Answers include:
Any PowerPoint visuals
Faces of in-room attendees
Content created during the meeting from flipcharts to whiteboards
How to make this happen? Try NOT to have your in-person group connect in on zoom. They will soon realize they could just WFH… Work From Home. Rather… read on!
Dr. Shirley Davis, Global Workforce Expert
Hybrid Meeting Best Practice #5 – Have a strong facilitator
Dr. Shirley Davis did just that at our recent National Speakers Association – N. TX Meeting. She spoke to the assembled crowd, engaging all in-person attendees. Yet, periodically, she asked the Virtual Concierge to share what was going on in the Chat Room. She asked for the visual of the Zoom Room to be shown on our screen. The virtual group felt included, got their questions answered and their comments heard.
Deborah Gardner, CMP also suggests, “Learn to work all camera angles. More cameras will be involved at meetings to help the virtual audience capture a wider experience.” (Speaker Magazine July/August 2021)
Hybrid Meeting Best Practice #6 – Design meetings for all attendees
When you begin your meeting or presentation, you acknowledge all of your group … especially those online.
When you ask your in-person participants to do an activity, that is when you direct all of your attention to your virtual audience to work/talk specifically to them.
When you hear feedback from your group, you’ll be inclusive – getting comments from both your in-person and online community.
When your live audience goes on break, you have another opportunity to connect with your virtual attendees.
As this pandemic continues to morph you will resume some in-person gatherings. Even so, hybrid meetings will become a permanent part of how your business will function.