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!

The Vampire Effect: Do Your Messages Suck or Stick?

Have you ever seen a cool ad, but can’t recall what it’s actually for? You’re experiencing the Vampire Effect, a term coined after a study conducted by MediaAnalyzer Software & Research, which results concluded that attention-grabbing content—from sexy images to celebrity endorsements—was sucking attention away from what the ad was actually trying … Continue reading

You Are Your Presentation

It happened again. Another case of PowerPoint abuse. This time the offender was House Speaker Paul Ryan—and we’re just waiting for an SNL skit on this one. ICYMI: Last week, he held a press conference to explain the newly proposed healthcare plan—a massively debated issue. And he used a PowerPoint … Continue reading

Did You Read My Email?

If you’ve ever said or sent that question, you need these email tips. What’s the matter with emails? We read (and write) them when we’re sitting at our desks, moving between meetings (or sometimes even during meetings), hopping on the subway, standing in line for lunch, watching Netflix or even … 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

A Picture Worth a Thousand Words

There’s nothing like 77 bathtubs to give you a quick idea of what “7.7 cubic meters of water” looks like. A friend recently sent me a link to this post on the current drought situation in California. Regardless of your political standpoint on Gov. Jerry Brown’s response to the drought, … Continue reading

Green Means Go

Do you remember the movie Gone in 60 Seconds? Even if you remember it as a bad movie, it’s a good reminder about how quickly we can lose our audience. The first 30-60 seconds of our presentations, speeches or reports are always the hardest part. Physiologically, it’s when our hearts … Continue reading

The Straw that Broke the Camel’s Back

I’ve heard over 100 presentations on philanthropy and giving. I spend a lot of time recording people speaking on video. Luckily, many of us are motivated to give back, and we want to urge others to do the same. This is not a complaint – instead, there is a great … Continue reading

Your Mission Needs Passion

As we fulfill our mission to transform business communications, we have the opportunity to work with many great businesses and leaders throughout the world. Eliminating corporate jargon and reviewing video feedback are all part of the transformation process that develops into sticky messages, undeniable pitches, SHARPs and audience engagement. On occasion, however, we have the … Continue reading