Monthly Archives: March 2014

Social Feedback Loop

Don’t you love it when you get a message from LinkedIn that people are looking at your profile?

Don’t you love it even more when the person doing the looking is the customer you just had a solid interaction with?  It’s like getting a firm handshake at the end of the meeting.

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Circles and Lines

As Shakespeare’s Hamlet said “Words, words, words.”  It’s all talk without some context or structure.

When trying to solve a problem, when trying to convey the relationships of a business process or information flow through a system, when trying to communicate with a customer, nothing works so well as a diagram* to help get the point across.

In a recent customer engagement, a speaker’s sixty slides spread conversational confusion like kudzu, spawning discussion and debate down a number of different branches.**  As the next presenter up, I started with a blank screen and a drawing tool, then drew some circles and lines to anchor us all in the reality.  The conversation was brief, understood and agreed by all, and led to a meaningful, focused, and brief demonstration to prove out the diagram.

There’s a reason the back of the envelope exists- problems are solved there; multimillion dollar ideas are born there.  And it may be all your audience can consume in one session.

Getting them aligned with one idea is a great success for any meeting.

*As a geeky fan boy, episodes of Star Trek always drove me nuts.  Plots essentially revolved around figuring out some kind of logic puzzle, and Kirk and Spock or Picard and Data would bandy about with the Tom Tom-voiced Computer trying to come to resolution.  I’d scream at the television “would you just get out a sheet of paper and write something down!?!”
** Triple alliteration score!
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Stand Up

A few months ago I found myself putting in a lot of windshield time getting from one customer engagement to another.  Lacking scheduled conference calls and a little bored with the radio, I wondered… “Can I punch ‘Bill Cosby’ into Pandora?”

Why yes, I could!

Spend some time listening to stand up comedians. Their livelihood depends on their skills for storytelling, use of humor (obviously), writing and preparation, and, perhaps most important, their sense of timing.* So do ours.  The more you listen, the more you’ll be able to pick out the good from the mediocre; the crafted message from the cheap laugh, and the writing conventions they use to expand on a topic, move from one to the next, and touch back to a point or theme introduced earlier in the act.  Dylan Brody is an excellent example as a “purveyor of fine words and phrases.”

 *The Smothers Brothers are masters of timing, from the pregnant pause to the unexpected interjection.  Dick’s ‘little brother’ Tommy is the devilish mastermind of the duo.  From interviews I’ve seen, he intentionally pulls his brother’s strings on stage, which makes the experience all the more genuine.
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