Assume and Doom! – 2 Ways Assumptions Doom your Communication.

Donkeys

You’ve heard the saying “When you assume it makes an “a**” out of “u” and ’me’.” I wouldn’t quite put it like that, but I WILL tell you that when it comes to communication, whether for job interviews, elevator pitches, or presentations, many of us assume our listeners know way more than they actually do.

In this day and age, we’ve become so afraid of giving TMI (too much information) that we often end up leaving out important details. Assumptions that get in the way of communication come in two forms: Emotional Assumptions and Logical Assumptions. Don’t let them doom your next communication.

Logical Assumption: Your listener understands what you do just because you tell them your job title.

I can’t tell you how many times working with clients on job interviews or presentations, a person will give a job title or brief description and then assume that the listener will know everything they need to know. Most of us are so intimate with the minutia that goes into what it is that we do that we make the assumption that everyone else is equally familiar with it and therefore omit important details that can help your listener truly understand what it is you do.

Some of you may be thinking, “But surely for a job interview or a presentation for my peers, the listener should have some knowledge of what I do. Why would I have to go into detail?” The operative word here is “some knowledge.” Yes, people may know in theory what a title like: Financial Consultant, Marketing Director or Human Resource Manager means, BUT that doesn’t guarantee that they understand what it is that you actually do. The danger with giving too few details is that it forces your listener to dig into their memory and pull up their own assumptions. Some of those assumptions might be positive, some may be neutral, and some may be a turn off. If the last financial consultant they met helped them amass a fortune, terrific. But what if the financial consultant that comes to mind is the one that ruined their grandmother’s estate?

Emotional Assumption: You know how your listener or audience feels about a topic.

Many times in preparing for a presentation, my clients will say things like,”I know you all want” “You must be tired of…” Whenever I hear those kinds of statements a little caution light goes on and I encourage a different word choice. Why? Because most people hate being pigeonholed or having their thoughts and emotions lumped together with the thoughts and emotions of a larger group. It may be important to bring up negative assumptions that an audience may have about your topic, (it’s called getting the elephant out of the room), but it’s equally important not to categorically assume what people are thinking or feeling. Feel it out by using modal auxiliaries, (might, could, may, etc.); they’re not called “polite” forms of speech for nothing.

Download a FREE chapter of my book Standing Ovation Presentations for tips on how you can better craft your message.

Sharing Your Story – 3 Women who Embraced Their Albatross & How You Can Too

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As a member of New York Women in Communications (NYWICI), an organization of professional women in media and communications, I’ve attended events with incredible speakers who demonstrate the power of sharing your story.

One event was with Madonna Badger, founder and chief Creative Officer at Badger & Winters, an advertising, branding, and design agency.

Madonna began her presentation by asking for her slides to be turned off. Before she began her formal presentation, she shared how she’d been struggling emotionally with the recent death of her ex-husband. She also shared her life-altering experience of losing her parents and three daughters in a fire from which she was able to escape. You could have heard a pin drop.

At another event, Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski spoke. Within seconds of taking the stage, Mika shared her experience of being fired from a job she loved.

NYWICI also hosted an evening with Arianna Huffington who collapsed because she was so burnt out from overwork.

All of these women used their stories to engage and inspire the audiences but they also used their stories to inform their mission in life.

After her tragedy, Madonna was determined to make a difference in the world. She decided to tackle an industry she knew–the world of advertising. She founded a groundbreaking movement called #womennotobjects

Mika’s mission for helping women know and grow their value is a direct result of the lessons she learned looking for work after having been fired. She has a book and a speaking platform called Knowing Your Value.

And after Arianna left The Huffington Post, she devoted herself full-time to her mission of helping executives slow-down and invest in self-care.

What have you learned from your trying times? How can you apply those lessons to your life goals? How can you turn your misfortune into your mission?

Here are three things you can do (and one thing you shouldn’t):

  1.  Reframe your Shame: Often when misfortune hits, we turn it into crippling shame. Reframe your shame by experiencing the emotion, as painful as it may be, rather than running from it. By experiencing the emotion, you take its power to shame you away.
  2. Own your Value: One thing Mika Brzezinski stressed is that even when your “stock is down,” you need to own your value. Discover and focus on what you’re great at, what value you bring to the world, and what strengths you have. Share them freely and confidently.
  3. Listen for your lesson: Everything that happens CAN be a springboard to a discovery. What have you learned from this? In Arianna’s case, she learned that she wasn’t taking care of herself, a value that had been instilled in her very early in life but she had ignored. Has any of your misfortune come about because you have betrayed one of your values? How can you turn that into your mission?
  4. Don’t be FAUXthentic: Listeners can tell the difference between FAUXthentic and Authentic. When sharing your story on the page or in person, allow yourself to tap into your emotional memory and not your logical interpretation.

I recently heard a well-respected professional speaker say that nobody cares about our stories. I disagree. A well told, authentic, relevant story not only creates instant trust and rapport, it can also be healing to both the speaker and the listener.

If you want to work on your story, I’d love to talk.

 

 

Analogies: Your Best Friend

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by Narmeen Iqbal & Robyn Hatcher

According to Dictionary.com, an analogy is: “a form of reasoning in which one thing is inferred to be similar to another thing in a certain respect, on the basis of the known similarity between the things in other respects”.

They are also your best friend when giving presentations and communicating with people. Analogies help listeners grasp concepts and ideas more easily. They help listeners mentally visualize the connection between one form of reasoning by interpreting it through another form of reasoning.

An excellent example of the use of analogy by a Marketing Professor at Indian Institute of Management (IIM). I compares marketing concepts to meeting a gorgeous girl at a party.  Like many effective analogies, this analogy uses a touch of humor.

  • You see a gorgeous girl at a party. You go up to her and say: “I am very rich. Marry me!” – “That’s Direct Marketing”.
  • One of your friends points at you and says: “He’s very rich. Marry him!” –“That’s advertising”.
  • You go up to her and get her telephone number. The next day, you call and say: “Hi, I’m very rich. Marry me!”-“That’s Telemarketing”.
  • You get up and straighten your tie, you walk up to her and pour her a drink, you open the door of the car for her, pick up her bag after she drops it, offer her ride and then say: “By the way, I’m rich. Will you marry me?” –“That’s Public Relations”.
  • She walks up to you and says: “You are very rich! Can you marry me?” –“That’s Brand Recognition”.
  • You go up to her and say: “I am very rich. Marry me!” She gives you a nice hard slap on your face-“That’s Customer Feedback”.
  • You go up to her and say: “I am very rich. Marry me!” And she introduces you to her husband-“That’s demand and supply gap”.
  • Before you say anything, another person comes and tells her: “I’m rich. Will you marry me?” and she goes with him- “That’s competition eating into your market share”.
  • Before you say: “I’m rich, Marry me!” your wife arrives-“That’s restriction for entering new markets”.

The effect of analogies is long lasting because they force you to form an image in your head and we are conditioned to remember visual information more readily than verbal information. I’m sure many of you reading this will think about these marketing terms the next time you’re at a party or a networking event. “Hmm… is this person using direct marketing or advertising?”

I often use the analogy of baseball pitching to describe “Elevator pitches”(read article) And I love uncovering analogies to help my clients come up with a unique way to describe their business or a  selling point of their product or service. For example; in working with a Whiskey Master Blender who was speaking about an extremely expensive aged scotch whiskey, I replaced an overused and incongruent gimmick he was using with an analogy of a piece of coal (the different raw whiskeys) turning into a gorgeous, luxurious diamond (the finished aged scotch). This analogy was visual, (he incorporated actual coal and diamond props) and conveyed to his audience the rarity and preciousness of his product.

What analogies can you come up with for your business or service? Feel free to test them out here and I’ll let you know my thoughts.

For more information about crafting your content, download a complimentary chapter of my bookStanding Ovation Presentations.

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