The Telephone Game

The telephone game is fun, especially as a kid or with kids. It’s the one where everyone sits in a circle and one person would pick a word or phrase then “pass it on” by whispering it to someone next to them. The fun was seeing how much the message changed when the phrase reached the end of the circle.

The telephone game is not as fun in business. You share what you do or what a product or company does, and people aren’t able to decipher and explain it to someone else.

I came across an example of this recently when I read an article about the NBA’s new sponsorship approach of allowing teams to have logos on their jerseys. Last week, the Warriors (I’m a big fan) held a press conference and revealed that they’ll be sporting the logo of a company called Rakuten.

I wasn’t familiar with Rakuten, so I was interested in what this logo would be on the Warriors’ jerseys. The issue was that a writer who was there to hear the announcement, couldn’t explain what Rakuten does in his article the next day. Instead, he shared “even after a 40-minute presentation, I’m still not totally sure what Rakuten does.” We call that a missed opportunity.

Rakuten doesn’t care about who was in that newsroom—they care about the reader (the consumer, you and me)—and if you can’t penetrate through that layer, you’re missing the mark. We saw this in the past when cloud computing first started to come out several years back.

Jargon, abstractions and corporate talk are as strong today as they’ve ever been. The need to stay plain-spoken, simple and clear is so important in every aspect of business—and life. To influence or get buy-in from anyone, they have to understand what is being described or what is being asked. We have long been supporters of approaching messaging differently to help people get it and the power of SHARPs is the best way to stand out in the noise—especially analogies to help your audience to picture it or understand.

The next opportunity you get (speech, call or meeting), challenge yourself to use an analogy to help people get it. It will make it more fun for you to share and will increase odds of any sort of buy-in.

We did research on Rakuten, and it appears they’re “like the Amazon of Japan”—let’s hope they start to shift their messaging now that they’re part of these World Champion’s jerseys!

High Stakes Q&A: Try These Tips

Even if you’ve been avoiding the news at all costs, you probably heard that one of the most high-stakes, public Q&A sessions of the year happened last week. An estimated 19.5 million people watched it on network television, and that doesn’t count those who live-streamed it from their desks, since … Continue reading

Top 10 Communication Moments of 2016

What a year. The Olympics. A Presidential Election. So much noise this year – a colossal communications cacophony. What, then, stood out? The moments. With such a divisive political, economic and social landscape this year, we found that people heard what they wanted to hear, and we also felt it … Continue reading

Connecting Matters to Sell…and to Influence

As we ramp up next week’s reveal of our annual Top 10 of 2016, it’s always an interesting effort to trim and tuck to make the list as robust and complete as possible. We consider memorable moments, and we also think back about the people who have influenced us. This … Continue reading

Learnings from Vin Scully – A Legend Passing on Legendary Principles

As we approach the final weeks of the legendary Vin Scully announcing for the Dodgers (67 years!), it’s important that his lessons don’t go unnoticed. Tom Verducci had a great write-up for Sports Illustrated, and we recommend all to read. We took something away from his article, of course tied … Continue reading

Is There a Second Tier Audience?

We’ve all done it. Opened the previous deck. Tweaked a few slides. Updated the numbers on the corresponding leave-behind, then scrambled off to the next presentation, meeting or coffee. Most of the time, it works. The new client or contact gets the bulk of the information you wanted to share, … Continue reading

Analogize It!

It’s one of the most common communications white lies we tell ourselves: “If I say the words, people will get it.” Even when your audience is well-versed in your subject matter, it’s not always true. The truth is, the most accurate data points and thoughtful analysis in the world won’t resonate … Continue reading

The Big Short

A lot of times people ask, “What are the essential components of a speech?” They’re looking for the silver-bullet, the ideal length of time spent, the appropriate level of seriousness, how much humor, how many data points to include, etc. Often, we look to TED talks, popular speeches and commencement … Continue reading

The Top Ten Best (and Worst) Communicators of 2015

From the power of care and rapport to the sexy baby voice, what can we learn from the new breed leadership sweeping through business, pop culture, politics and sports? Each of the people on the 20th annual list of Top Ten Best and Worst Communicators of 2015 can teach us … Continue reading

Big Picture: What’s Next?

Baseball playoffs, scrambling to meet the sales quotas for this year, and – oh yeah – finalizing plans for next year. It’s October. If you’re not planning for next year, you should be. Here are three things to think about for next year’s annual plan: 1.    What’s your vision? Whether … Continue reading