February 21, 2011
Three great tips for communicating powerfully
I recently spoke with Carmine Gallo, author of "The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs: How to be Insanely Great in Front of Any Audience," who attributes career advancement to the way you communicate (including body language), your brand presence and people's perception of you inside and outside your company.
Gallo remembers a top scientist not advancing at a top 20, Fortune 500 corporation because no one understood him. While he was one of the brightest in the company, he failed to communicate his messages clearly in ways others could understand.
Another major company called Gallo because one of its top executives was in danger of losing his job. The head of human resources told Gallo, "You need to work with this guy. He's great at what he does, is well accomplished, but he's not an inspiring leader. " Gallo confirmed this for himself when he saw one of the executive's boring presentations.
Gallo says that to grow in your career, you need to speak well and communicate effectively. To do this, Gallo offers three main tips:
1. Create one-liners. To communicate effectively and give good presentations, Gallo recommends learning how to create one-liners -- in media they're known as sound bites -- that you can develop to describe your brand.
When Steve Jobs presents a new product, he creates a one-linter sentence perfectly describing what the product stands for. It's so small, it can fit in a Twitter post.
"MacBook Air: world's thinnest notebook. If that's all you know, it already says a lot. Then Steve can fill in the details," says Gallo.
Gallo asks, "How would you describe your personal brand in 140 characters or less? Who are you?"
2. Tell good stories. Once your brand is defined, the second tip Gallo gives us is to tell good stories. You need to reach both the left and the right brain. The left brain is analytical, whereas the right brain is responsible for emotions. Gallo says that numerous studies have shown that persuasion takes place on the emotional side of our brains.
Stories connect with people emotionally, says Gallo. In an interview, when they ask you what makes you a great leader, say, "Well, let me tell you a story."
3. Define the problem, then present the solution. Gallo's third tip on how to communicate more effectively is to answer the one question that matters most, "Why should I care?"
Before sharing your personal brand or great stories, ask yourself, what's the problem my customer, or interviewer is experiencing? Once you have the problem, you can present your solution.
Interviewers are asking, "Why should I hire this person?" Most candidates don't answer this question, because they're so focused on themselves, says Gallo. When Steve Jobs pitches a new device -- such as an iPad -- he describes the problems you have with your laptop and phone. He brings up problems you didn't even know you had, says Gallo. First he states the problem, then he presents the solution.
So, before your next interview or networking event, have the answers ready to "Who are you and what do you do?" Make them short, clear and concise. Before answering others' questions, take time to understand the problem, before presenting a solution. And, to make the most impact, present your solutions in the form of a story.
Karen Burns is the author of The Amazing Adventures of Working Girl, a career guide based on her 59 jobs over 40 years in 22 cities.
Lisa Quast is a certified career coach, mentor, business consultant, former corporate executive and author based in the Seattle area.
Randy Woods writes about job-search tools, networking techniques and other tips to help you land your dream job.
Matt Youngquist is the president of Career Horizons, a career counseling firm.
Natalie Singer is a Seattle writer, editor and small-business owner.
Michelle Goodman is the author of "My So-Called Freelance Life" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide."
Paul Anderson helps professionals in transition find their desired employment.
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