Daily Thoughts on Clarity – Blog

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AMP up your communication

What, who, how. If you can’t answer these questions properly for your communication, you’re leaving impact to chance. The usual advice is to MAP these questions out: M-A-P, Message – Audience – Presentation. Yet, while a MAP is a very useful thing, an AMP provides way more bang: When you start by

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AMP up your communication

What, who, how. If you can’t answer these questions properly for your communication, you’re leaving impact to chance. The usual advice is to MAP these questions out: M-A-P, Message – Audience –

Read More »

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Recent Thoughts

The clarity river

The word “clarity” invites a binary view on the matter: Either you have clarity or not. But that’s hardly how it works in real life.

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Popular Thoughts

Behind the facts

Most questions that are worth investing the time to prepare a presentation for don’t have an easy yes-or-no answer. If they had, we could just

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Thoughts on Communicating with clarity as a leader

Empowerment

“Empowerment” is a fancy way of saying that you trust your team with making decisions. Unfortunately, what some leaders mean when they use that word

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Opinionated leadership

Someone once told me that “there’s no prospering team that’s not led by a strong leader with strong opinions.” And, indeed, reality seems to prove

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Complete Archive

Needs more info

Some salespeople love to make decisions on behalf of their customer. Their favorite one: the purchase. These salespeople have already

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Giving a talk

When you’re giving a talk, are you truly giving it? Or are you taking more than you give? Such as

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A fun speech

What’s worse than a fun speech that lacks substance? A profound speech that lacks fun. The fun part might at

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Just for today

What if, just for today, instead of reading 100 posts on social media, you read one chapter in a book?

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Again

And then they say it again. Only s l o w e r. Or LOUDER.As if I was kind of

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It’s complex

“My idea is complex, I can’t possibly leave this aspect out or that. I mean, what if someone misses the

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Existential Threats

In order to understand business moves of larger corporations, it’s a useful exercise to consider how they relate to existential

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Toxic vagueness

Some people cover everything they say in a fuzzy layer of vagueness so they can never be questioned or challenged.

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The sweet spot

The sweet spot for running a sustainable business is to do things thati. you are deeply passionate about,ii. unbelievably good

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The day after

The keynote was a great success. Standing ovations. “What a great presentation!”“You’re a natural born presenter!”“That was quite the roller-coaster

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I’m not creative

That’s usually a different way of saying “My first idea wasn’t any good so I’m giving up.” Let’s say you’re

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Adapt or Attract

Two ways to resonate strongly with your audience. Adapt your messaging to the audience. Or. Attract your audience with your

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Rule no. 2

I often speak about the brutality of the first rule of communication: The audience is always right. If they didn’t

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Different vs. specific

Good marketers make their marketing different.Great marketers make their marketing specific.Which is why it’s different by default. Great marketing doesn’t

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Time’s up

If you care for what you do, you’ll always have more interesting things to say than you’ve got time to

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What do you mean?

It’s a simple question that changes everything. And yet, we often shy away from using it rigorously. We notice that

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“Buy now”

When you ask your customer to “buy now”, what are you actually asking for? Money? Commitment? The beginning of a

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Shining eyes

Shining eyes are among the most reliable compasses for doing work that matters. Benjamin Zander pointed it out in his

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Who cares?

It’s just details. It’s just decoration. It’s just the back side. It’s just a corner case. It’s just implementation. It’s

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Last minute ideas

That moment when inspiration strikes.You can’t control that.Sometimes it strikes last minute. When it strikes, everything immediately becomes so obvious.

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Persuading people

The moment you try to persuade your customer you essentially admit that … i) either you don’t fully understand what

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Just thinking

When was the last time you were just sitting somewhere and thinking? No devices, books, magazines, music etc. Just you

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Curiosity

Many presenters tell their audience everything but fail to make them curious for anything. It’s exactly the other way around:

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Gentle nudges

My daughter wanted to take a workshop. I called the organizer to register her. I was told that my daughter’s

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The 4R-sequence

Rigour leads to relevance leads to resonance leads to results. Start with rigour.Stick with what’s relevant and let go of

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Ready or not?

“The show doesn’t go on because it’s ready; it goes on because it’s 11:30.” – Lorne Michaels These are the

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Life

You try.You fail.You learn.You try.You fail.You learn.You try.You fail.You learn.You try.You fail.You learn.You try.You fail.You learn.You try.You fail.You learn.You try.You

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Silly Faces

Making a silly face and writing a provocative statement beneath it is one of the best ways to get people

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Interesting

Absurd gets rejected.Obvious gets ignored. Interesting sits in the sweet-spot in between. What about your idea is non-obvious so that

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Open doors

Two very different ways to create an offer: No. 1: Leave as many doors open as possible and make sure

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One thought

If you can manage to plant ONE THOUGHT in my head, you’ve changed my life. You’ve also achieved way more

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No one laughed.

Recently, I went to an OpenMic event where comedians get the chance to test their programs. One of the performances

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Rule no. 1

Rule no. 1 in communication is brutal:If they didn’t get, they didn’t get it. End of story. There really is

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Gut it wrong?

My gut doesn’t know what is right.But it knows what feels right. And that’s enough of a reason for me

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This is the game you’re in

-> Passionate beats eloquent-> Prominent beats competent-> Relatable beats spectacular-> Relevant beats fancy-> Simple beats complex-> Useful beats beautiful-> Wow

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Wild Hearts

No, it’s not how you did it in the past.No, it’s not guaranteed to work.It’s even possible that you get

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Word juggling

Eloquence is sometimes mistaken as the skill of being able to juggle complex sentence structures and complicated words. Which leads

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Greatest Hits

What’s your favorite greatest hits album?How often did you listen to your favorite track on that album? Interesting, don’t you

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Life’s busy

Life’s busy. I bet that yours is busy, too. So are your audience’s lives. Problems keep popping up for them,

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Selling diamonds

All too often, corporate messaging suffers from – let’s be straight – bullshitting. Promising the blue from the skies, using

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Moving faster

“I’m not getting the results I’m looking for … so I need to work harder and move faster.” But do

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Remember me!

“I’ll send you the slides.” The fairy tale about the double use of presentation slides as handouts goes something like

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Meet Rambo

We don’t meet Rambo when he was born. We don’t meet him in school. Not even in Vietnam. We meet

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Rewarding meetings

Meetings are madness. We all know better. But still, most of us don’t do better. Because we’ve accustomed ourselves to

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Lack of time

It never ceases to amaze me how the default mode in some sales forces (especially the larger ones) is to

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Open your eyes

Today’s as good as any other day to start becoming a better speaker. Here’s one step towards that: Fire up

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In one sentence

Many great products can be described in one sentence: “The notebook for creative people.” “The fastest acceleration of a production

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Bypasses

Straight lines are not always the quickest path. That’s why bypasses exist. It might be shorter to drive straight through

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The complete picture

Many communicators struggle with the challenge to convey a complete picture of their topic to their audience. After all, it’s

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8 million

Each year, more than 8 million children die due to poverty (source). That’s a huge number. But how large is

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New information

“Have you heard the news about David?”“Oh, yeah, yet another proof for how selfish he is.” When new information becomes

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Playing around

When you’re testing a new approach, are you really testing it or are you just playing around? When we play

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The practice drug

In a world of get-rich-quick advice it’s an eye-opening journey to explore the realm of world class musicians who practice

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On the surface

Google’s search engine is incredibly complex inside and incredibly simple on the surface – basically a search bar and that’s

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I don’t know much

We had this mathematics professor at the University. During a discussion about some topic or another, he would often emphasize

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Unexpected ground

A few years ago, I used Hemingway’s 6-word novel “For sale: baby shoes, never worn” in a keynote to illustrate

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Gifts

Here are some ideas for last minute gifts that will still arrive on time to bring someone joy over X-Mas.

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The slow buyer

Most businesses are obsessed with getting customers to buy faster. While dismissing that the customer who buys slowly, after careful

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Change

Today marks the end of Angela Merkel’s period as Germany’s chancellor. Three attitudes she brought to the office: Keep calm.Be

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About coaches

There are two kinds of coaches. Those who give you answers and those who give you questions. There’s a place

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Order from above

“Don’t ask me why. It’s an order from above.” Still a common scheme in corporations – both outward and inward facing.

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Most delicious

The bakery shows us one piece of each of their three most delicious cakes, each one more delicious than the

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Nothing new

Humans are story builders. Whatever we experience must fit into a story that makes sense. In a way, you could

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Kind of remarkable

The Blue Man Group is kind of remarkable. Actually, it’s two kinds of remarkable: “built in” and “on top”. Built

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Status boosters

When you pass a new information along and when that information is in line with your reputation then the mere

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In the moment

The best camera is the one you have with you. For most of us that’s our phone, nowadays. I’m glad

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Karaoke skills

In their great book „Moments of Impact“ on how to make better meetings, Chris Ertel und Lisa Kay Solomon define

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Fun or profound?

We watch movies to be entertained (mostly), but we don’t mind learning something in the process. We listen to a

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Getting unstuck

If you could ask me one question about your communication, e.g. a question about something that’s holding you back. Or

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tb;dr

No! Most likely the reason why you didn’t bother to read the piece was not that it was too long

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Being you

Sometimes, we’re so busy becoming someone that we forget to be someone. How about you take this day as an

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Who gives a damn?

Prof. Donald Saari, a mathematics professor at the University of California, Irvine, has established the who-gives-a-damn principle in his lectures.

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Envy

But this company has a much larger marketing department. But this CEO is much more extroverted. But our competition is

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Wanna marry me?

Most websites feel like proposing on the first date, something like this: “Look, I’m really awesome. I have a Ph.D.

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Oh, that’s me!

“Oh, that’s me! I’m struggling with the exact same thing.” When a marketer sparks that feeling, it opens the door

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If I’d be you

“If you understood everything I said, you’d be me.” – Miles Davis I can’t look inside your head. I can’t

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Deserving

I’ve worked really hard so I deserve this vacation. I’ve saved my whole life so I deserve this new home.

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Why me? Why now?

These are the two obvious questions that are too often overlooked in communication. I get that you are excited about

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Delight

If there was one thing you could do today to delight one of your customers and put a smile on

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Who cares?

For many communicators, the default way of communicating is to try and make people want what they have to offer.

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Speaking with confidence

Most of your competition leads with vague statements such as “improving efficiency”, “providing flexible solutions”, “using high quality materials”. One

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Reading their news

What are your customers reading?How do they speak with each other?What are they saying about your product?Or about other products?What

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Price as a message

In our regular Clubhouse session on leadership communication we had an interesting discussion about price. One of the participants reported

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12 angry men

In my keynote speeches I often ask people what’s so different about movies that we find them entertaining for 2+

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Hearing what we say

Mary says: “I think it’s important that we focus on stability.”Taylor adds: “It’s also important that we focus on efficiency.”Mary

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False promises

Getting attention is easy. Make it bigger, faster, louder, or crazier. And if in doubt, throw money at the problem

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Pushback

Back in the days when I was still offering design services I recall a meeting with one of my clients.

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Keeping it simple

… is often confused with scratching the surface and leaving out the difficult parts. But that’s not what keeping it

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Skip that meeting?

“I’ve got more important business to do so I’ll cancel this meeting.” Of course, you’ve got more important business to

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The stories we make

“I don’t tell stories.” the restaurant owner said, “so that’s not relevant to me.” Which is half the truth. Because

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History vs. Story

It’s spelled “story” – without the “hi” at the beginning. Still, many people approach telling stories as recounting historical events.

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Smile!

Do it! And while you’re at it think about a beautiful interaction you had. Stay with that thought for a

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The jumping CEO

A big difference between startups and established companies is how they speak about their product. Where in startups people show

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Using up trust

We tend to think about sales as a competition. About winning the pitch, making the sale, and getting the deal.

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What to build

There are things that everybody needs but nobody wants. And there are things that everybody wants but nobody needs. Both

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Lazy empathy

“What’s in it for them?” is in my top 3 of most misleading speaking advice. It sounds perfectly reasonable. Of

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Wait, but why …

… do we have this meeting?… do we develop this product?… do we post this stuff on social media?… do we sacrifice what

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42

This year, Douglas Adams’ novel “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” happens to turn 42. As you might know, 42

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Brain to brain

Speaking is a sequential process. We can only speak one word after another. However, thoughts aren’t sequential. When I think

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Trespass

Here’s a random piece about my teenage years. It’s about trespassing. In fact, it’s about the album “Trespass” by Genesis.

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Ironoia

Ironoia, according to Ian Bogost, is a modern disease that prevents us from taking anything seriously. It also prevents us

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The real experts

Asked about which kind of feedback he values apart from the audience feedback, stand up comedian Jerry Seinfeld answers: “There

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Stand out!

That’s what they tell us: Stand out! And so we see more and more people tell their story bigger, faster,

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A true story

Many people have a strong distaste for selling. They neither like to be sold to nor to sell themselves. To

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A short story

Think of a room somewhere in a house. Maybe there’s a sofa inside. Someone’s reading a book. What do you

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2020

Be helpful. That’s my summary of 2020. I feel today should be a day to thank all the people who

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The gift of speaking

We’re giving a speech. Yet, ironically for most speakers speaking is about taking. Taking for granted their audience’s time. Shamelessly

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10 eyewitnesses

If, after a car accident, you ask 10 eyewitnesses what they saw, you will hear 10 different versions of the

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Consistency attracts

When you consistently brighten your team’s day.When you consistently decide to skip the bullshit.When you consistently promise only the things

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The comfort of facts

In many organizations, facts are the fuel that inform decisions, large and small. A thorough presentation of the facts involved

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On our own

Not everyone considers themselves a leader. Many are happy to follow when others move first. Many prefer it when someone

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A new perspective

A fear that I often encounter among speakers is that their audience might “know this already”. And quite likely that’s

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A mismatch?

A few things people care about: feeling seen and heard appreciation for their effort their family their employees a day

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The polite audience

Have you ever sat in a totally boring presentation but ended up clapping your hands anyway? Clearly, the applause wasn’t

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Beginning and end

Every presentation starts at the beginning and stops at the end. Unless it doesn’t. Like most presentations. (Yours?) I mean,

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The Bay effect

In 2014, director Michael Bay had one of the most devastating performances on a big stage. In a Samsung press

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The Lucy approach

Charlie Brown knew it every time. Yet, next time he bought Lucy’s trick regardless. Every. Single. Time. It’s heartbreaking to

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Try harder?

Some skills can be improved by just practicing long enough. Let’s take running. Basically, the longer you run, the longer

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Where are you?

Are you 100% present in the moment when you give your presentation? 100% focused on your audience? Or are you

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Good enough

Good enough, but for what? Actually, there are two kinds of good enough: The “I don’t care” kind. The “I

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Low hanging fruits

Several months into the pandemic, remote formats still have a firm grip on businesses and events. From online meetings to

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Strange reality

People meet, incidents occur, without anyone ever having done anything intentionally for this to happen. Reality just happens. Still, as

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The WTF moment

Marketers strive for a WOW moment. But the WTF moment is even stronger. WTF is short for “I can’t believe

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Louder?

The world of marketing gets louder. Essentially every day. As every business and many employees turn into publishers, we not

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The boredom buzzer

Ever heard of theatresports? It’s a form of improvisational theatre in which two teams of actors compete against each other.

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“I’m sorry!”

“I’m sorry” is a powerful phrase, not only in personal relationships but also in business. Many businesses struggle with saying

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Missed opportunities

The introduction is probably the single biggest missed opportunity in many presentations. What’s the purpose of your first sentence? Some

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Whose time invest is it?

Traditional presentations consume their audience’s time. Modern presentations reward their audiences for the time they invest. The selfish presenter of

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Tell me more

… is a much more powerful guiding principle when designing a speech than “tell me everything”. We tend to feel the

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Do they care?

Often, they don’t. We have gone to great length to elaborate on any possible argument. We have shown all the

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Digging deeper

Yeah, sure, inspire me! But please don’t stop there. At every corner of the internet, people want to inspire us

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Not my fault

“On slide 19, I clearly stated this …” Of course you did. But your audience didn’t get it. And that’s

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