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Daily Blog on The Art of Communicating

Find the right words, make a bigger impact!

TODAY’S Post

Who’s responsible for that?

What empowerment means:The leader trusts the team with making choices. How it’s often done:The leader trusts the team with making choices as long as it’s the same choice the leader would have made. The worst version might be this:The leader trusts the team with making choices as long as it’s

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Is life logical?

Maybe not, as Arno Geiger points out: “The inclination towards logic in literature is nothing but a prejudice against life. In the many collections of

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Busy being right

When you’re busy being right, consider that, in the meantime, others may already be getting it right. PS: Happy to help if you’re trying to

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Lasting impressions

Yesterday, I spoke about managed dissatisfaction. In communication it means meeting the basic threshold of adequacy without investing in the effort to truly connect, enlighten,

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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

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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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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Complete Archive

The next chapter

When leadership announces the script for the new year, you can often feel their excitement. The CEO bursts with pride

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If you care

Here’s the deal: You deeply care about the things you do, I deeply care about the things I do. You’ve

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The Pinnacle of Clarity

Recently at Confused Corp, the world market leaders for unclear instructions and perplexed employees. The CEO announces: “Our email communication

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Hidden gems

Headlines are the handshake before the conversation: We’re agreeing on an exchange of attention and value. You promise me value,

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Opportunity

Opportunity is not the kind of person who just knocks on your door. Opportunity likes to be invited. When was

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Leap!

Venturing into the unknown requires bold steps, not just detailed plans. It’s one thing to say: “Here’s the plan.”It’s another

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The Tipping Point

There’s a tipping point in the journey of preparing a speech. It’s that electric instant when heart, gut, and mind

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The due date

In a small software development company, the team has been working tirelessly for weeks to meet a crucial deadline. On

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Confused Corp

Recently, at Confused Corp, the world market leaders for unclear instructions and perplexed employees. Leader: “I don’t want us running

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Brilliant

Are you tired of coaches who think you need “fixing”? There’s a prevailing notion in parts of the industry that

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Leading

Leading isn’t about being in front; it’s about knowing where you’re going. Lighting the path helps your team to know

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Beyond the vision

A visionary leader steps in, armed with fresh ideas and an eagerness to disrupt. Bold plans are set: reinvent traditional

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Clueless

What just happened? Did they seriously choose that piece of junk over mine? Every detail, every nuance — mine’s miles

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Pretty good

You know those talks where you zone out, even if the speaker’s trying really hard? You clap at the end,

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A silent saboteur

Mediocrity is a silent saboteur. While great things quickly get promoted and bad things are fixed fast, average just stays

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Ear to the ground

Good communicators want to be understood; great ones start by understanding. The good ones strive for clarity to make it

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A bit of a mess

You’ve started with the best of intentions. You’ve chased opportunities and kept doors open. You’ve been a good listener and

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Choosing “no”

A “no” to excessive jargon is an embrace of clear, straightforward language that every listener, regardless of their background, can

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The chaos around us

The tricky thing about distractions is that they don’t always present themselves as such. In many cases, they come disguised

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Slow down

Usually, the first idea is not the most creative. Or the funniest. It’s not the most sophisticated. Or the clearest.

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Stop scrolling

Watch someone flick through TikTok reels and you’ll see a repeating pattern: Lame! -> FlickLame! -> FlickLame! -> FlickOh, what’s

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Becoming a leader

When people transition into a leadership position, they are regularly surprised to learn how much of their job is now

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I see you

When was the last time you said “Thank you!” to someone even though you didn’t have to? A thank you

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Summer break

A personal note:After 830+ posts and 250 podcast episodes, I’m taking a summer sabbatical. It’s time to take a step

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Resonate stronger

When their brilliant idea loses to an inferior one that’s among the most frustrating experiences for any entrepreneur or leader.

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To Do

Some people love “to do” lists while others hate them. Some people love the feeling of checking the next item

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Fired up

Sometimes, the obvious needs to be stated: If you’re not passionate about what you do, how can your audience be?

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Lazy strategy

Some companies define their strategy as a focus on an outcome, such as “double our revenue in the next 5

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Simplicity

Contrary to popular belief simplicity is not the opposite of complexity but the prerequisite. It’s through simplicity that we open

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No!

In elementary sales school you learn that a prospect’s “no” is short for “not enough information”. And so, whole armies

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Nate

The TV show Ted Lasso is full of interesting, rich characters. One of them is Nate, the kit man who

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What customers want

Many failed products are built on what the makers think people should want. Successful products deliver on what people actually

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Effortlessness

Looking at masterful communicators, you could get the feeling that they have a natural talent for communication, some sort of

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A no-brainer

If customers knew everything that you know, it would be a no-brainer for them to buy from you, right? They

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Cliffhangers

Cliffhangers s*ck. You wanna know so badly what happens next but the show just won’t tell you. You’ll have to

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When clarity emerges

When clarity emerges, it immediately dissolves. Clarity invites new possibilities and opens up new directions. Which inevitably push clarity away.

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Two comedians

Recently, I’ve been to two shows by two different comedians. The first show was sold out in a large event

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Top speakers

Top speakers excel at speaking thanks to repetition. They deliver (basically) the same speech hundreds of times. If you listen

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Your problem

People love to turn their problem into your problem. “I got a call on the phone so I’m late to

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What if?

“What if we were only allowed to use environmentally friendly supply?” “What if we had to cut the price by

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The better deal

I’ve seen many pitches end in frustration as a result of begging for a yes. Sometimes that works. But often

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Not so easy

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

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Rational decision

Reminder: As humans we love to rationalize our decisions – rather than make rational decisions. That’s true for your customers,

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Being right

It’s easy to win forgiveness for being wrong; being right is what gets you into real trouble. – Bjarne Stroustrup

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Valuing my time

In a fast paced world like ours, attention is among the most precious resources of any audience. Which makes the

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After the pitch

After your pitch what happens? Often a pitch doesn’t lead to an immediate decision: “Thank you very much, we’ll think

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Getting likes

Speaking of what you want to be known for: Make content around that, not what your audience is giving you

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Sales

Have you ever been tricked into buying something you didn’t even want? Perhaps the salesperson just found the right words

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Counter-force

Force tends to create counter-force.Push me and I’ll resist.Pull me and I’ll resist. But show me why it’s worthwhile to

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Focus: excellent

Now Taylor knows. And can act accordingly. She took my self-assessment and uncovered her core strength: focus, being able to

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Open to change

Wow opens their mind. Aha changes their mind. Both are better together. Aha moments can’t happen when your audience doesn’t

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Sophistication

Complexity tends to give the impression of sophistication. But actual sophistication lies in making things simpler, not more complex. So,

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Explorations

What would happen if you made it more fun?Used some pink? Or instead made it a bit more subtle? What

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Winning pitches

When you’re pitching an idea … … clear beats clever.… tangible beats sensational.… plain English beats jargon. I have yet

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Doomed to fail

Many great ideas have died as a result of status fights. In the meeting room it became more important whose

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The first idea

Yesterday, I’ve spoken about how the first idea is often not the best idea. And yet, sometimes it is. The

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The second idea

Usually, the first idea is not the most creative. Nor the funniest. It’s not the most sophisticated. Nor the clearest.

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Irresistible

Today might be a good day to check out my podcast. After two years and more than 200 episodes it

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3 questions

If the people on your team clearly see where we are going, why we are going there, and why we are going there, and if your actions suggest that you mean it (as opposed to just throwing some random motivational bullsh#t at them), it’s likely that the right people will be attracted and …

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“How long?”

“How long?”, she asks the doctor.Immediately, we’re right in the middle of a story. Which is typical for modern movies.

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Singular

Secure the only spot at the airport that sells water and you can basically stop bothering about how you do

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Still missing

Which book didn’t you write but could have?Which speech didn’t you give but should have?What’s the blog that doesn’t exist

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Edgy and weird

Average blends in.Edgy stands out. For example, there’s this super weird fashion store that draws an ever growing crowd of

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Culture Clash

When companies merge, cultures clash. The stronger the cultures, the bigger the clash; the bigger the clash, the stronger the

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What matters most?

Short reminder: If you don’t decide on what matters most, you’re effectively delegating that decision to your audience. What’s your

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Thanks

For being kind. For lending a helping hand to someone who needed it. For listening to someone who had nobody

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Relevance beats elegance

Elegance might get you attention.But relevance creates interest.Elegance without relevance is meaningless. By all means, make it elegant. But never

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Is your topic dry?

No, your topic isn’t dry. There are no dry topics. There are only dry lectures: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uhiCFdWeQfA

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The clarity river

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

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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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