I read a great blog article recently by Geoffrey James. Geoffrey has written a number of books including Business to Business Selling: Power Words and Strategies from the World’s Top Sales Experts and Success Secrets from Silicon Valley. I’ve already pre-ordered a copy of his latest offering – ‘Business without the Bullshit’ after reading some extracts. His recent article ‘8 Conversational Habits That Kill Credibility’ on INC.com could equally be called 8 habits that kill your corporate communications. So, inspired by that article here is my summary of five things to avoid in your stakeholder video communications:
1. Big Words, Little Meaning
Now as a marketer, I might be part of the problem here, but here’s my pennies worth anyway. By bulking out your communications with over-elaborate wording you may confuse people. (There is a sense of irony in the fact the word over-elaborate is over-elaborate) But more than that, people will feel that your idea or message isn’t for them, it will build distance between you and your audience as you appear aloof. Keep it simple, keep it short, and keep it human.
2. Stop Cold Corporate Euphemism
‘Rightsizing’ and ‘development opportunity’ are both examples of corporate euphemism, or weasel words. Theodore Roosevelt classed them as “words that suck all the life out of the words next to them, just as a weasel sucks an egg and leaves the shell.” If you have something unpleasant to say – just say – like ripping off a band aid the pain will be quicker and your audience will like the fact that you’re honest, clear and straightforward.
3. Be Careful with Metaphors
Having worked in the IT industry I often hear car metaphors used, ‘this software is like a Rolls Royce’, I’ve often thought whether car salesmen use IT metaphors ‘this is very much the Amazon Web Services of the Ford range.’ I do think metaphors are a great way of explaining the complex, but they easily become cliché. Even worse if they are long winded they defeat the purpose of their use, so chose them with care.
4. Reach out, Touch base, Shift a paradigm, STOP THE JARGON
Now, we all do it, we all use Jargon in some form. ‘Strategize’, ‘Does that dial up for you’ and ‘Leveraging the right tone to drive strategically align values’ are three I’ve heard in recent weeks that left me feeling cold. In many ways they push people away rather than bring them towards you. Please for the sanity of us all try to keep them to a minimum.
5. Throw Enough and It Will Stick – It Won’t
By throwing enough stats, quotes and facts at your audience you sounds more convincing – wrong. Be clear about what you are looking to say; the information you are going to convince your audience and what action you want them to take afterwards. If you throw three balls at one person they drop them all, throw one ball and they’ll catch it (wait was that a cliché). Be clear, be convincing, stay on point. There is a great quote from Einstein “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough”
From those five points my summary would be simple – how would you communicate with me if I sat right next to you – use that as a template to deliver authentic communications. Your people want to like you, they want to follow your ideas and they want to be convinced. Enjoy the conversation and enjoy being human and forget the corporate robot act.