Communicating confidently is a challenge that we all face at different times in our lives. Whether it’s making a sales presentation to a client, conversing with a loved one, or speaking to an audience, communicating be like a puzzle with no solution in sight. Add to that different behavioral styles, left-brain/right-brain processing, and the fact that we are all different, the complexity expands and can make communicating challenging. Why?
Often we are speaking in a way that only we or a person of our same personality style would understand or remember.
Take the average salesperson. When he or she delivers the “pitch,” it’s a pitch that, in most cases, would be best understood by a person possessing the same style. If the salesperson always delivers the same pitch, he or she may be eliminating 75 percent of the market and never be able to connect again. Another example would be a scientist who speaks in a matter only analytical people could understand. That style would work when speaking with a colleague, but what about people who aren’t scientists?
This might seem like a lot of mumbo jumbo. What is a “behavioral style” and why is it so important? How do I know what style a person is? What is left-brain/right-brain processing? Come on Chuck . . . what’s up with that? Well, the good news is that you don’t have to become an expert at identifying styles or how a person processes to understand how to communicate, because here is a very simple communication rule to consider . . . It’s What They Remember That Counts!
We Communicate In One Of Four Different Ways:
When time is concerned, this is the longest communication style. Many people start off a novel by telling the story from the very beginning to the end.
- SHORT STORIES
Much shorter than novels, much of the rhetoric has been eliminated. CNN is known for their “short stories.”
- LASER PHRASES
Shorter than novels and short stories, laser phrases use paraphrasing and effective words. Reporters and writers for CNN Headline News utilize laser phrases to give a complete world news report in 30 minutes.
- BULLET POINTS
Bullet points make the point in the fewest words possible—generally less than five.
When it comes to speaking: Time is the only variable.
So why is time the only variable?
It’s all about HOW we deliver the message. Communicating using novels or short stories can create information overload. It would be like a police officer stopping a traffic violator for running a stop sign and seven other patrol cars show up. A little overkill, wouldn’t you say? Well, many times when we communicate, we overload (or overkill) our clients with irrelevant information. Communicators who utilize bullet points or laser phrases understand the valuable practice of compressing language. Compression allows the communicator the luxury of utilizing concise information. The receiver benefits from the brevity.
Here is an example of compression: Sometimes clients ask me to give a one-hour long speech to a large audience. Then they ask me to give the same speech at a dinner or luncheon event, but they only have 15 minutes of time allotted. Yet they still want the same concept and the same end results. How do I do it? It’s easy—I compress the information from 60 minutes of short stories and laser phrases to 15 minutes of bullet points and laser phrases. The concept and end result are the same: time is the only variable!
Through history, bullet points or laser phrases have proven to play a very significant part of what is remembered about a particular speech or event. As an example, “The Gettysburg Address” was three paragraphs long and President Lincoln’s speech utilized only 266 words. No novels or short stories by the President— just laser phrases and bullet points. That speech has been remembered through the passage of time.
Quotes that use bullet points and laser phrases:
- “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
—President Franklin Roosevelt in his Great Depression speech.
- “I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat.”
—Prime Minister Winston Churchill at the beginning of World War II.
- “Ask not what your country can do for you, but, what can you do for your country.”
—President John Kennedy in his 1961 inaugural speech
- “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.”
—Astronaut Neil Armstrong, the first person on the moon.
- “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
—President Ronald Reagan at the end of the Cold War.
- “This will not stand!”
—President George Bush when Iraq invaded Kuwait.
- “We will not waiver. We will not tire. We will not falter. And we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail”
—President George W. Bush after the September 11 terrorist attacks.
Tips To Become A Better Communicator
- Realize that 70 percent of communication efforts are misunderstood, mistaken, missed, or messed up because of too much irrelevant information.
- Write out bullet points and laser phrases ahead of any important communication. Know this: all communications should be important.
- While preparing the script, ask yourselves these questions of each point or phrase:
- What does this buy me?
- Would the client or audience care?
- So what…?
- Is what I am saying effective?
- Speak 10 words to each hundred words spoken by your client. The client should be doing all the talking. When in doubt, remember that less is best.
- Naturalize, memorize, and personalize.
- Beware of using too much humor in your communication. In most situations, it doesn’t buy you anything, and using humor can be a way to mask true intimacy building.
- When listening, be interested versus interesting.
- SEUSSEM’ — Help your clients or audiences hear what you have to say.
When presented with a question that requires a one-word answer, reply with an effective one-word answer. And use bullet points and laser phrases to give the other person more time to speak. One of the most significant needs of a human being is the need to be heard. Well, how can people be heard if we are consistently barraging them with words? It’s simple: when we fulfill their need to be heard, we advance intimacy, which moves us towards our final objective: connection!
So as we communicate every day, remember these great words, “We will not waiver. We will not tire. We will not falter. And we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.” These words will be remembered 100 years from now, just as Lincoln’s’ Gettysburg Address.
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address
November 19, 1863
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal. Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate—we can not consecrate—we can not hallow—this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.
It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us—that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion—that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain—that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom—and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.”