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 beats aha in the short run
-> Aha beats wow in the long run

Don’t persuade harder, resonate stronger!

Word juggling

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

Which leads to the even worse misconception that the more complex your speech, the more eloquent you would be.

Far from it.

Eloquence is the skill of using the right words at the right time.

More often than not that means finding simple words to describe complex things rather than complex words to describe simple things.

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, quick fixes need to be put in place, opportunities want to be chased, risks managed, pitfalls avoided, … all of that not only in business but in their private lives, too.

Let’s face it: Most people are rather busy with managing their own lives. There’s just not much time left for them to care for what you’ve got to say … let alone cheer for you.

Which can be a source of major frustration when you’re expecting that from your communication. When you want your audience to care for you.

Things change, though, when you turn your expectations around and cheer for them. When you see their struggles and understand their desires. When you open them a door or prevent them from falling into a trap. When you make their lives a little bit easier.

See them first and they will, sooner or later, see you.

It’s different over there

If your communication doesn’t challenge what we know or what we believe, why would we grant you a share of our time?

If afterwards everything will be just the same as before and nothing has changed, why invest the time?

Communication that brings no change is a waste of time.

Worst, it creates no tension for your audience to take any action. So, it’s also a waste of your time.

Tension is created by showing us a path that’s different than the one we’re on. A path that we like better. Let’s say because it helps us solve a challenge we’re facing. Or because it provides the missing piece for a puzzle. Or maybe simply because it’s more fun over there.

If they knew what you know …

Would they buy your product?
Would they follow your recommendation?
Would they feel valued by your offer?
Would they approve of the way you achieve the goal?
Would they agree that your price is justified?

Great communication fixes your product. It’s the easiest tests you can make: Tell the truth and then listen.

Do funny ads work?

Remember that funny ad?

Well, can you also recall what it was advertising? Let alone did it make you buy the product?

You’re not alone, judging from a study by Ace Metrix which found that “funny ads were slightly less likely to increase desire or purchase intent than unfunny ones”.

But let’s look closer. Michael Curran, the study’s author explained that “humorous ads tend to be light on informative content, which in turn creates a lower desire for the advertised product”.

Which – to say it straight – is disrespectful to the audience. Essentially, funny ads fail when they favor the “wow effect” at the expense of the “aha effect”. When they go for the laugh without going all the way to the insight.

In other words: Make your communication fun and entertaining, but do it in a way that serves your message – rather than having it steal the show.

Humour is a great way to get people’s attention. But clarity about the message must come first: What’s the point? And why should I care?

PS: Essentially, what Ace Metrix found is that funny ads do work if implemented that way.

So you care for your cause …

Many people who deeply care for their cause fail to make change happen.

For a simple reason: It’s not enough to care for your cause. You need to care for the change, too.

This has a profound impact on your actions. If you care for the change, you’ll inevitably have to take the others into account. You can’t just care. You need to empathize: Who is affected? Why would they care? What would make them listen?

It’s when you switch to that perspective that you start looking at your communication differently. Suddenly, all the details that felt so near and dear to your heart loose some of their weight because you realize that people need to be curious for the facts before you can dig deep. Suddenly, it’s not even about the facts anymore but just as much about the values and beliefs that make us interpret the facts in this way or another.

But most importantly, when you care for the change it’s not about whether you feel uncomfortable to go on a stage and speak about your cause. When you care for the change it’s required to speak up. It needs to be done.

And so, you just do it. And when you do it, you’ll find the courage to turn your speech into a powerful speech because that’s what’s required to make change happen.

Justifying a meeting

If you want to be responsible with people’s times, you need to justify the need for a meeting from quite a number of angles, each of which can be summarized with a simple question:

Why do we need the meeting?

Including: Is it really required that we have that meeting? Or might there be more effective ways of dealing with the matter?

Who needs to be in the meeting?

Is the purpose of the meeting important enough to justify asking for these people’s presence? But also: Will their contribution be large enough to justify their presence at the meeting?

How long does the meeting need to be?

Can we ask this much time from the people who need to be there?

When do we need to have the meeting?

Is everyone who needs to be there available at the time of the meeting? And it would be the best use of their time?

Where do we need to have the meeting?

Is it required for everyone to be in the same room (adding to their time budget if it’s a physical space)?

Doings often make it much easier to find answers to these questions than meetings. When it’s clear what needs to be done, it’s much easier to identify the people who can and cannot contribute, whether we need to gather in the same physical space and whether the product of the doing is worth spending the time.

Electric clocks

In the 50s, Rolls Royce claimed that their cars are super quiet.

But how quiet were they? Here’s how Rolls Royce explained it:

“At 60 miles an hour the loudest noise in this new Rolls-Royce comes from the electric clock.”

Can you explain to me your promises in plain English in a way that I can make sense of them from my everyday experience?

When everything’s important, nothing’s important

This is the blueprint of most presentations, reports, pitches, websites, you name it.

Everything’s important. And therefore, nothing is important.

The thing is this: If you don’t pick what’s important you’re asking your audience to do it for you.

You might not be too happy with their choice.

Better to find the courage to do it yourself.

Spread the Word

Dr. Michael Gerharz

Dr. Michael Gerharz