„Talk less say more“ by Connie Dieken is a comprised guide on how to manage ourselves in order to get better results.
About Connie Dieken
Connie Dieken is the founder and president of onPoint Communication. She helps leaders to speak as smart as they think and, in consequence, influence others towards positive action.
Connie supports companies like Apple, Olympus, McDonald’s, The Cleveland Clinic, Pacific Life, and others in developing and delivering high-profile communications for winning outcomes. She contributes to companies’ highest performance in today’s fast-paced, listening-impaired, shortcut society.
Before launching onPoint, she spent more than twenty years as a television news anchor, reporter, and co-host of America’s longest-running television talk show, The Morning Exchange. She has also represented more than 50 companies as their spokesperson, including Intel, Sealy, GE, Ernst, and Young, etc.
A simple recipe
Given the fact that today’s face-to-face communication skills are plummeting, we need something simple to get us back on track when we tend to drift. Our attention span is shorter than it used to be. This is due to the amount of information we are faced with on a daily basis. If getting and keeping our attention used to be easy, now it becomes a challenge.
Whether we’re referring to our professional or personal life, grabbing somebody’s attention and keeping it has become a vital skill to possess. If we want our messages to get through to people, we need to make them shorter and simpler to digest.
Connie Dieken’s formula looks straightforward. It consists of three stages:
- Connect – Managing Attention
- Convey – Managing Information
- Convince – Managing Action
Failure to connect
Have you ever found yourself in a situation where you failed to make a connection? What could have been the cause? Among the reasons, perhaps you:
- Took too long to get to the point
- Chose the wrong method
- Didn’t focus on the person
- Lost your head and came across badly
- Sugarcoated a subject or demoralized someone
- Weren’t specific enough
- Used a one-size-fits-all approach
- Failed to grasp their true resistance
Much like Dale Carnegie, Connie has her own version: Give people what they want quickly. If you zero in on what matters most to your audience, they’ll reward you by paying attention.
Stay in the moment
Linda, an up-and-coming corporate executive, learned to stay in the moment after her self-absorption led to disastrous results.
It happened at 7:30 on a Monday morning as she was checking her e-mails and reviewing her schedule. She got a phone call. It was the CEO of another company. “I’ve heard great things about you, and I’d like to explore having you join our leadership team”, he said.
As the conversation unfolded, the CEO didn’t like what he was hearing. Linda came across as distracted and rushed. She interrupted him and talked over him. The CEO got the impression that Linda was self-absorbed and too unfocused to be an effective leader on his executive team. As a result, he quickly crossed out her name from the list of prospects.
We often found ourselves in a similar situation, talking to someone who, clearly, wasn’t interested in talking to us. That doesn’t mean necessarily that what we were saying was the wrong thing, but simply that the person sitting in front of us had other priorities.
Focus on the needs of the people with whom you’re communicating. This means, first managing yourself in order to win other people’s attention.
What to do to stay in the moment?
Show respect for other people’s work
If you notice that the other person is busy, demonstrate respect and earn future attention with words like: “I see that you’re very busy right now. Is there a better time for me to come back to discuss this?”
Aim for the heart not the head
Your priority is people’s feelings. Make emotional appeal your main focus, and you’ll earn people’s attention.
Focus on people, not electronics
If you’re presenting material from a laptop or standing in front of a screen, don’t focus your attention on the slides. No matter how important your slides may be, it’s much more important to watch your audience and see their reaction.
Adapt your style
We are under the wrong impression that there is a one-fit-for-all method we can use. Our strategy is to communicate in the receiver’s style, rather than expecting us to adapt to them. If we’re dealing with an analytical person, we should provide the facts they require.
Once you’ve managed to get people’s attention, it would be a pity to lose your audience by conveying information in a sloppy manner. Conveying successfully leads to clear understanding. Clear understanding leads to convincing people to act later on.
Brad was invited to a school board meeting to deliver good news. The school was the recipient of an $80,000 gift from an alumnus who had passed away. However, it wasn’t that simple. The money was left in a named fund that Brad would manage, split into two separate funds.
The school could access 6% of each fund per year and was permitted to spend the funds divided equally, in two areas: scholarship and grounds funds. Further, if the school didn’t use the money in either of the two funds, the money would roll over and grow annually.
Are you confused yet? So was Brad’s audience. Some of the school members got stuck on the $80,000. They started chatting away about their new roof. Others were stuck on the 6% explanation.
The more Brad talked, the more confused got his audience, at least, those who were still listening to him.
No matter how important the information you are offering is, it will fall on deaf ears if the method of delivery lacks originality.
A simple solution would have been:
How to convey
Whether you’re doing a presentation or simply address an audience, of one, two, or more people, the tactics are the same.
Emphasize the main idea
When speaking, emphasize the idea you want to get across. If you’re doing a presentation, underline the main idea and bring arguments to support it, without reading it from the slides.
Talk in triplets
Our mind craves information in multiples of three. This is the secret shortcut to convey your message. Triplets are so integrated into our lives, we probably don’t notice it. We love triplets even in our everyday lives. We love the possibility of getting more than one option.
For example: Tuesday, July 19
1:00 – 2:30 P.M.
Conference room 3-A
“Just as Adam and Eve kick-started an activity that led to six billion humans, See’s has given birth to multiple new streams of cash for us. The biblical command: To be fruitful and multiply, is one we take seriously at Berkshire”. The above extract is from one of Warren Buffet’s annual letter to shareholders to create clarity.
The ability to influence positively, and quickly, influence others is a core leadership skill that produces superior results. Influential people use their power to influence behavior, decisions, actions, and outcomes. They revolutionize organizations by inspiring people to achieve higher results.
However, just as Robert Cialdini in his “Influence: the psychology of persuasion” or Dale Carnegie in his “How to win friends and influence people”, the ability to influence action must be genuine. The intention has to be sincere, otherwise, we slip into manipulation. True, manipulators often get their way, but their victory is short-lived. They merely earn compliance not commitment.
In order to be convincing, we don’t necessarily have to be charismatic.
How to convince
The language of leadership is decisive. When we’re using weak language, we are stripped of our power to influence and we block our ability to determine action.
When we sound decisive, we capitalize on opportunities and overcome obstacles. We make good decisions quickly. Confidence is contagious. If we sound self-assured, people will respond with confidence to what we’re asking and want to contribute.
We should be afraid to apologize when we’re wrong. It’s not a sign of weakness but a way to convince others that we’re confident and empathetic.
The best way to convince people is to transfer ownership.
A good leader, no matter the level in a company, wants people to own what they do and take responsibility for their actions. Transferring ownership helps boost morale and productivity.
Transferring ownership means shifting your ideas and decisions to others so that they embrace them and, consequently, take action.
Lee Iacocca, who revived Chrysler as its CEO and president in the 1980s, was a transfer master. He inspired others by asking them to share in both the obligations and the successes of the car company. In his book, “Where Have All the Leaders Gone”, he recalled having used words such as these, to transfer ownership and make things happen:
“We have a hard task ahead of us. The challenge is formidable. But together we can do it. It’ll take everyone – the employees, the dealers, the suppliers, the union, the government and we’re asking for your help.”
Wouldn’t you be inspired when you feel such an important part of the company’s success and therefore your own?
Be simple and you’ll have success
Chip Heath and Dan Heath’s have a special way of delivering a simple message through simple and concise lessons. In their wonderful book “Made to stick”, they emphasize the importance of compact ideas. Compact ideas help people learn and remember the core message. Compact ideas are important now more than ever when people have to make lots of choices in a limited amount of time.
Chip and Dan Heath show us the way successful people have managed to convey simple yet brilliant messages. The main idea of the book, stressed over and over again is the following:
You may have a great idea, but, if your delivery lacks “stickiness” in the delivery of the message, it will fall on deaf ears. People are too busy to try and get the gist of your message.
Make it short and simple. And above all: “make it stick”.