The 5 White Lies about Communication

blog_image_white_lies

All too often, business communication sucks. Why? We’re not willing to look ourselves in the mirror when we’re not cutting it.

We tell ourselves little white lies to make us feel like, “Hey, it’s not so bad.” But if you really want to be a better communicator, then it’s time to get real.

Here are the 5 white lies about communication that we hear time and again:

White Lie #1: If I say the words, people will get it. Does this sound familiar?

You prepare a carefully scripted, bulleted presentation. You think, “If I make sure to get through this these points, they’ll get it.”

We’ve all fallen into this trap – and guess what – it’s no good. It’s boring. When you cling to the script, the opportunity for meaningful connection is lost. Ditch the script!

White Lie #2: When I’m “on,” I’m great. The best communicators don’t turn “off” and “on.” They’re always “on” because they’re always themselves. When you’re trying to be “on,” this often comes off as overly polished, formal, and, we hate to say it, but fake. Listeners want to hear and see the real you.

White Lie #3: I don’t need to prep. I can wing it. Sometimes it feels like there’s no time to prep when you’ve got back-to-back meetings from 9am – 3pm. But even the smallest amount of preparation makes a big difference. You should always be able to answer the question of “So what?” before speaking. Brownie points if you can name the action you want your listener to take and the benefit to them.

White Lie #4: People tell me I’m pretty good at speaking. Honest feedback is hard to come by. No one likes saying, “That was pretty awful.” Feedback is sugarcoated. Your job is to become aware of how you actually come across to others. That’s why a cornerstone of our Communicate to Influence training is video feedback.

White Lie #5: It’s not the way we do things here. Just because you’ve always done things one way, doesn’t mean you have to keep at it. Many of our clients have seen senior executives read a script or PowerPoint – and then fallen prey to doing this themselves! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone.

Admit the white lies you’re telling yourself. It’s okay – we’ve all been there!

What’s not okay is staying there. Own up to where you need to get better.

book_banner_blog

The Audience Only Gets What You Give Them

The mask used by Michael Myers in the original “Halloween” was actually a Captain Kirk mask, painted white, due to low budget. Did you know that? I sure didn’t – I was so darn focused on how frightening he was. (Although after reading this fact on an airplane, I couldn’t … Continue reading

How to Rock an Acceptance Speech

Every time you speak, you create an experience for your listeners – whether they are your colleagues, kids, PTA or soccer team. In the case of Oscar acceptance speeches, it is no different. What is said and how it’s said combine to create either a this-is-a-great-time-for-a-bathroom-break or a riveting, tear-jerking, … Continue reading

The Life of the Panel

So many of our clients inquire about how to lead a panel, how to be a part of a panel, and/or how to be a moderator. We’re always looking for examples, and when you can – follow the example of a rock star. When Bill Clinton was late to a … Continue reading

What Do I Do with My Hands?

You’re standing at the front of a room of people. All eyes are on you. You know your content – phew. But there’s a nagging question that jumps to mind… (cue the video, below) We don’t advocate the politician gesture, and we’re not out to make everyone in business into a … Continue reading

Lightening Up!

True or False: To be taken seriously, you have to be serious? False. People buy on emotion and justify with fact. Whether we’re presenting at a quarterly business review (QBR), in front of your board or simply touching base in a one-on-one meeting, we have to be light! But don’t just take … Continue reading

Should I Be Likable or Influential?

Actually, you can be both – and you should try to be both. When you’re likable, you’re almost automatically more influential. As Bert wrote in You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard, “The likability factor dominates in politics. It dominates in business. And it dominates in our day to day lives. … Continue reading

Fake It Till You Become It

Several of our program leaders use the phrase, “Fake it till you make it” when they are coaching. I prefer to raise the bar on that challenge. Do as social psychologist and HBS Professor Amy Cuddy says: Fake it till you become it. Amy’s TED talk is filled with reasons … 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

Audience Analysis: Nonverbal Cues & Clues

You’re out to dinner with friends, and one of them is in the midst of telling a great story. She’s gesturing wildly, her intonation ebbing and flowing, her energy rising as the story builds. Just as she’s about to reveal the climax, here comes a waiter to cut her off … Continue reading