Show! Then tell.

Remember Show and Tell from elementary school? You bring in something cool from home, show it to the class and pass it around so everyone can see it, while you continue telling about it. I remember getting so frustrated in second grade when the student at the front held his favorite toy behind his back while he told us all the details rather than showing us. And it’s the same thing many of us struggle with in our communication: we forget to show.  

Whether it’s a quarterly business review, a company town hall meeting, or really anything where we’re trying to influence, we tell, tell, and then tell some more. We lead with data and analysis, and a whole lot of detail.

Here is a simple way to easily side step that and make your ability to influence your audience even stronger. 

Start a sentence with, “For example…”

When you give a concrete example the audience can relate to, it pulls them in and helps your audience see it, feel it, and they get it. It creates a picture in their mind to understand the proof points. So often when I work with executives, they’ll make a claim about their product or solution. I counter that with two words: “Prove it.” It forces them to provide an example of proof and ultimately a wowable point for the audience to say I GET IT. 

Here’s an important note: I’m not saying “Don’t tell.” Show, then tell. Any data point or analysis will benefit from a concrete example. If we stay in the weeds of endless data points and details, our audience won’t understand what we’re trying to convey. Start with a concrete example, and then back it up with your data points. We love to use SHARPs, which make the point come alive and create an emotional connection to your audience. Make it a wowable moment, where you yourself can’t believe the impact or difference it made. That will make you an even better storyteller.

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