Speaking So People Want to Listen

I remember the early Golden Nuggets cereal adverts. It featured Klondike Pete an Appalachian old-timer miner who’d shout, “Thar’s gold in them there hills!”

And after blowing up some dynamite he’d find his golden nuggets breakfast cereal. I bought the whole ad, unfortunately I didn’t buy the breakfast cereal – my parents did. And as it’s terrible for your teeth, they bought me more wholesome stuff instead. Bastards. Never forgiven them.The analogy I’m trying to tortuously paint, is that our miner had to go "over the line" and take a risk (albeit in a cartoon world) to get the golden nuggets. And that’s where we need to go, "over the line" if you like, if we want our communication to be remembered and be heard.

Mark Zuckenberg said…. “The biggest risk is not taking any risk... In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”

Or as Seth Godin says in his brilliant https://youtu.be/V82OwyF_vBg “If you’re driving along a road and you see some cows in a field, they’re everyday, but if the cow was purple – you notice the cow!’”

To illustrate, here’s a great singing “over the line” from Komla Dumor https://youtu.be/DfJn8HCKO8g and funny from Maysoon Zayid https://youtu.be/buRLc2eWGPQ?list=RDbuRLc2eWGPQ If you’re in those audiences you’ll remember these talks.

I’ll finish with a real life example. I was working with an amazing team of GPs who perform day long presentations on cancer diagnosis and care to GPs. These talks really matter – they save lives. They were worried their talks weren’t quite landing as well as they could and being remembered.

So we spoke about coming up with ideas that were deliberately over the line. They then, creative bunch that they are, came up with loads, most of which they’ve implemented.

Here’s my favourite. One of the topics is about “after care for prostate cancer patients.” The message they wanted to get across was that it’s slow and careful that wins the race, rather than fast drug supported solutions.

To illustrate the point they put together a little show, with puppets, with commentary to explain their analogy. They also added a giraffe, who’s neck goes down dramatically at one point to remind the audience of the loss of libido. The whole thing gets across a clinically vital message, gets huge laughs and great feedback from the audience and most importantly is remembered.

So next time you’re putting together that important presentation, as you’re preparing, mentally take yourself “over the line.” That’s where the gold is.

Here’s some tips to help you get there.

  • Deliberately fun
  • Do not censor yourselves
  • Be honest
  • Embrace humour
  • Mind-set must be over the line

Safety notice! Of course over the line does occasionally go wrong because you’re taking a risk, and as I don’t want you to lose your job; if you’re not sure, run your idea past a colleague before you present it. Although even when it goes wrong, as with Gerald Ratner https://youtu.be/Vikz5TtWylw , you can usually turn it round. Gerald’s even more successful now and earns a fortune as an inspiring and funny key-note speaker.

This is the second chapter of my book (shortened). Feedback to chapter 1 https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/how-speak-so-people-want-listen-jack-milner was mostly very positive, people liked the video links but too many words. So I’ve kept the video links, reduced the words and tried to at the very least, keep nudging the line.

Jack Milner

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