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The Art of Authentic Communication (Be The Glass Goblet)

The Art of Authentic Communication (Be The Glass Goblet)

The Art of Authentic Communication (Be The Glass Goblet)

“You have two goblets before you. One is of solid gold, wrought in the most exquisite patterns. The other is of crystal-clear glass, thin as a bubble, and as transparent. Pour and drink; and according to your choice of goblet, I shall know whether or not you are a connoisseur of wine. For if you have no feelings about wine one way or the other, you will want the sensation of drinking the stuff out of a vessel that may have cost thousands of pounds; but if you are a member of that vanishing tribe, the amateurs of fine vintages, you will choose the crystal, because everything about it is calculated to reveal rather than to hide the beautiful thing which it was meant to contain.”

Back in 1932 a lady named Beatrice Warde used that metaphor in a speech to the British Typographers Guild. The speech itself debated whether design should embellish or elaborate the printed word. Over 80 years later the same metaphor can still be applied to modern forms of business communication.

These days the ’embellishments’ that business communicators use range from a tidal wave of information to overt creativity. Some modern day embellishments include:

  • Information overload designed to give the impression of knowledge.
  • The website (or other advertising) that tries too hard to be creative and ends up drowning out the message.
  • Social media gimmicks that serve no purpose other than to falsely inflate statistics.
  • Unnecessarily complicated language and buzzwords used in attempt to appear intelligent.

All of these things generally fail. Why? Because people are looking for genuine connection. They want to know what you think, what you know that affects them, and how you feel about the subject at hand – and they want it in a way they can understand.

Be more like the ‘glass goblet’ that reveals what’s inside and less like the bright shiny object that lacks real substance.

 

Contact David Wise

0427 360 293
[email protected]

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Speaking and Acting Are Not The Same Thing

Speaking and Acting Are Not The Same Thing

Speaking and Acting Are Not The Same Thing

There is a line that separates speaking and acting and it is very clear. A speaker steps over that line the moment they stop talking to the audience and instead invite the audience to watch the scene being created on stage.

There is a term in acting called “dropping the fourth wall“.  Most stages have  three walls – the back wall and the two side walls. The fourth wall is the invisible wall at the front between the audience and the actors. The actors don’t acknowledge the presence of the audience during their performance. They invite the audience to watch the scene they create, but do not speak to or include them.

In speaking you share dialogue, movements, expressions and emotions with the audience. You always acknowledge and talk to the audience. Good speaking, in my opinion, is much more conversational and while you may be more animated and structured than you would be sitting down over coffee with someone, you are still projecting your own personality.

In business, a lot of people have a pre-conceived idea of how they should look, sound, and act when doing a presentation and so they try to imitate that instead of simply being themselves. In the process they a do a poor impression of whatever it is they are trying to be. 

In speaking the audience needs to relate to you, not some character that you are pretending to be. Certainly there are techniques we can teach you to help you be a more confident and articulate version of yourself, but when it comes to acting, it’s best to leave it to the Cate Blanchetts of the world.

 

Contact David Wise

0427 360 293
[email protected]

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Introvert At Work. Hold That Thought.

Introvert At Work. Hold That Thought.

Imagine you’re a marathon runner and you’re just getting into that zone where you’ve settled into a comfortable rhythm. It’s taken a few miles to settle into that rhythm but now everything is working well and you’re really making good progress. All of a sudden someone you know beside the road calls your name and steps out in front of you waving their arms.

You feel obliged to stop running and ask “What’s wrong?”

They say “Oh, nothing. I just saw you running along there and haven’t seen you for ages so I just wanted to say “Hi!””

What?

You resist your desire to to choke them, politely say “Hi” and get back to your running. Except now you’ve lost your rhythm and it takes a while to get back into it again. Unbelievably, just as you are getting back into your zone, it happens again! And of course, once again, you have to start over and try to re-focus on the task at hand.

Outwardly you try to be polite but underneath you are absolutely seething. Isn’t it obvious you are busy with something? By the time it’s happened another eight or nine times you are ready to explode with rage. Your head is spinning and your body is so tense that it’s impossible to think about anything – let alone what you were doing in the first place. In the end you either don’t finish the race or it takes about ten times longer than it should.

Hands up if this scenario reminds you of a typical day at the office?

Every time you get into your ‘zone’ you feel someone hovering at the door, the phone rings, or someone just barges in. Every time it happens you feel your stress levels rising.

The odds are that you are probably an introvert and you aren’t alone.

Even though roughly 50 percent of the population are introverts, it is one of the dilemmas of modern life that workplaces are very much designed to suit extroverts.

If allowed, we introverts can get deep inside our own minds to a place that is extremely productive. The problem is that things like open plan offices, technology on tap, and the idea that being a ‘team player’ means always being available, are all barriers to getting to and staying in, ‘that place’. Once interrupted it can take a long time to get back to where we were.

It’s not that we aren’t sociable – introversion and shyness are different things. We’re quite happy for a chat during morning tea and lunch and many introverts are actually great speakers and insightful leaders – it’s just that we need space to let our minds work without our thoughts being interrupted.

For the extroverts, when you see an introvert deep in thought, please be assured that they don’t need to be cheered up or rescued. In fact they are probably deliriously happy being alone with their own thoughts. If you have a thought that you feel must be shared straight away or you will absolutely die, please try to find another extrovert who may appreciate it. Once the introvert has accomplished what they need to, they would probably love to hear about it as well.

 

Contact David Wise

0427 360 293
[email protected]

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Umm…Are Filler Words A Problem?

Umm…Are Filler Words A Problem?

A couple of years ago I heard myself doing a pre-recorded radio interview and was shocked at how ‘scripted’ I sounded. I began to question whether the advice I’ve always been given to cut out filler words like um and ah had caused me to sound like a robot instead of a real person.

Since then I haven’t been as hung up on it  as I used to be and feel quite comfortable if I let the odd ‘um’ or ‘ah’ slip out. That is how people talk after all.

On the other hand there’s no doubt some people use too many meaningless sounds and words in their general speech – and it tends to get worse when they speak in public. If you use too many it can be distracting, even annoying, to an audience and also detract from your credibility.

Try to record yourself doing a speech or get someone to actually count your ‘ums’ and ‘ahs’ etc. You will soon tell if there are too many.

As a rough guide, some people I’ve seen use an um or an ah every few seconds. I personally find this incredibly aggravating and impossible to listen to. On the other hand, just one here and there I don’t think is anything to be concerned about.

The most important thing is that your message is clear and understood. If you can effectively communicate your message then I’m happy. If it’s a little unpolished then you can relax knowing you are a normal human being.

 

Contact David Wise

0427 360 293
[email protected]

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The Little Stories That Affect Our Credibility

Years ago a guy called Aristotle, whom most people considered quite smart, talked about a concept known as the ‘three artistic proofs’ – logos (logic), pathos (emotion), ethos (credibility/character). Aristotle noticed that in order for someone to persuade others, their communication had to include both logical and emotional appeal and the speaker or writer had to have credibility.

Illustration: Truth and LieWhile we have many more tools of communication available to us these days than Aristotle had, that basic principle remains the same. Effective communication still has to have logical and emotional appeal and come wrapped in a package of credibility.

In business communication, some of our credibility comes from things we do deliberately to create a certain image. Positioning, branding, imaging are words that spring to mind. However our credibility is also affected by other little things that tell a story to others about what we are really like. I’ve also seen this referred to as our ‘big story’ versus our ‘little stories’.

We all have a ‘big story’ that we put out to the world. In business that’s usually the image that we portray in our marketing – the way we want people to view us. Our little stories are all the little things we do (or don’t do) every minute of every day that either reinforce our big story or undermine it. It’s all the little things we may not notice that others do that can cause us embarrassment. Little stories are everywhere. A few examples that spring to mind:

  • The customer service representative that is aggressive and rude to customers
  • The inappropriate joke when speaking in front of an audience or distasteful post on social media
  • The website or other written material that is full of spelling errors
  • Being a ‘nice guy’ on one social media channel and being a crazy troll on another
  • The narky sign in a place of business
  • Careless or aggressive driving in a company sign-written vehicle

The list is literally endless because this stuff is absolutely everywhere and sometimes it’s not even something we can identify like in the examples above. Sometimes it’s just a gut feeling that we don’t trust a person or even a whole organisation.

By the way, little stories are also the way that police catch out criminals most of the time. It’s the little inconsistencies in the criminals’ stories that give the police clues as to where to look for the hard evidence.

So how worried should you be about your ‘little stories’?

There’s no straightforward answer to that question. The fact is that there are always going to be little things that trip us up and put out a message we didn’t intend. For example we all forget to return a phone call from time to time. We all miss the odd mistake here and there. We all have bad days when we’re not as polite and friendly as we should be. Sometimes people just put crazy interpretations on what we say despite our best efforts.

In business we can put systems and procedures in place for some things. For example when I write something like website copy I always get someone else to proofread it. I also have checklists for a range of different things I do to make sure all the details are covered and nothing slips through the cracks.

However a lot of the time, credibility has more to do with ‘ways of being’ than ‘ways of doing’. If you put out a big story that you are a friendly business with helpful customer service then you actually have to have friendly and helpful staff and display those values yourself – all the time not just when you are with a customer. Seems obvious I know but the reality is it doesn’t happen a great deal of the time.

The first thing to do is know what your big story is in the first place. Then and only then, you can constantly check whether the little stories you are putting out are consistent with your big story.