Things that Need to Be Said

Haircut or Curse of Knowledge

“Oh, did you get your hair cut?”

I say this all the time. In my mind, it’s clear as day that I’ve just given a compliment. But to the person listening, it leaves a lot of doubt and lingering questions.

Does he like it? Does it look good? Did I go too short? Is the color too drastic?

I’m guilty of forgetting to follow through with the actual compliment. “Did you get your hair cut? It looks great today!” is a completely different exchange.

This happens to all of us all the time – in our personal lives and at work, when the stakes are low and when they are high. It’s an example of the Curse of Knowledge. We think we say one thing, but we actually don’t say it at all.

We stop short of connecting the dots. We make references that our audience doesn’t understand. We give a high-level overview of something, and it’s not familiar or specific enough to sink in.

What’s the best way to stop the curse of knowledge?

Seek feedback.

One of the best values we continue to provide as outside consultants is the raw, audience perspective. We can raise the flag that says, “I don’t know what that means,” or, “You need to give more detail around this initiative,” since we don’t know all of our clients’ positioning, internal talk, acronyms or jargon. Chances are, unless you are preparing for a weekly project meeting with the same four people, your audience won’t know it either.

Any chance you get to run your messaging and positioning by a set of unbiased, virgin ears, do it. The feedback will improve your pitch, your town hall or your upcoming roadshow.

And the next time you notice a great hair day, remember to lead with the compliment rather than the question.

 

book_banner_blog

Stop Compartmentalizing: Find a Story to Tell

Last week I was working with an executive, and he got flustered. “I can’t think of a story,” he said. I told him, “Just think about it – the stories will come to you.” And sure enough, they did. Why were we looking for stories? Not just because it’s trendy … Continue reading

The Deal is in the Details

In case you hadn’t noticed, the concept of story is pretty hot right now. Basically every industry endorses it as its #1 bit of advice, with entire companies popping up to “help tell your story.” There are two avenues of storytelling. First, there is the simple method of telling what … Continue reading

Raise a Pint to Unexpectedness

It’s rare to catch me watching a commercial. But somehow, between DVR, my kids, Twitter and all the emails in my inbox, there I was, feeling affected by 60 seconds of brilliance. Don’t think it can happen to you? Then watch below: The genius of this ad comes from a … Continue reading

Chipotle Wraps You in Emotion

My career started in advertising, churning out sticky messages to folks like you about everything from cleaning supplies to Powerball tickets. I learned quickly that great ads (and great messages) appeal directly to our emotions. Chipotle (and their ad agency) knows this, too. They’ve been receiving lots of press over … Continue reading

Sticky Statistics

Sometimes it feels like life has become a series of statistics. Thing A is the #1 cause of Disease B, only 56% of Demographic C believes in Opinion D, and so on. At some point, we become worn down by the numbers, and they lose their impact. So, what do … Continue reading

We’re Exci-TED.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: TED Conference Time. As participants in #TED2013 Live, we’ve been privy to this year’s ideas worth spreading. With so many ideas (over 84 different talks in 4 days) – which ones do we remember most? Those that were well-communicated, of course. Fact: … Continue reading

Use the Human Scale

My friend Jason is a genius. Like many parents across the country, Jason had struggled to explain the price of college to his daughter. Seventeen-year-old Rachel had fallen in love with a school whose tuition is upwards of $60,000 a year. For a while Jason tried to communicate by multiplying … Continue reading

Emotion and Story Rule

You’ve heard us say it before, and we’ll say it again: People buy on emotion and justify with fact. There’s no better place to watch emotions unfold than on the Super Bowl, and it’s no surprise to us that the commercials that stood out were the ones that got us … Continue reading

What If Everybody is Cursed By Knowledge?

Anytime you’re presenting something – say, the ins and outs of cloud computing – and are so entrenched in that world you forget it’s possible for someone to not know all about it, you’re suffering from the Curse of Knowledge. We’ve written about this before. But what if everyone in … Continue reading