Chris Anderson, Owner of TED
Presentations rise or fall on the quality of the idea, the narrative, and the passion of the speaker. It’s about substance, not speaking style or multimedia pyrotechnics. It’s fairly easy to “coach out” the problems in a talk, but there’s no way to “coach in” the basic story—the presenter has to have the raw material. If you have something to say, you can build a great talk. But if the central theme isn’t there, you’re better off not speaking. Decline the invitation. Go back to work, and wait until you have a compelling idea that’s really worth sharing. Read More
The Inconvienient Truth about Change Management –
McKinsey & Company
Conventional change management approaches have done little to change the fact that most change programs fail. The odds can be greatly improved by a number of counterintuitive insights that take into account the irrational but predictable nature of how employees interpret their environment and choose to act. Read More
11 Simple Concepts to Become a Better Leader
All 11 concepts are simple, and yet, perhaps in the name of revenues or the bottom line, we often lose sight of the simple things – things that not only make us human, but can actually help us become more successful. Read More
5 Models for Leading Change
In this article we introduce five models for leading change. No single model isright. However, they all have something valuable on offer and can help us to navigate our way through complex organisational situations or circumstances. Read More
In times of crisis, we prefer Visionary Leaders. Hope is a strong motivator to current action when the situation is difficult.
In the years leading up to 2008, the USA was stuck in two protracted wars, and an economic crisis sparked by the subprime lending collapse. In this context of uncertainty, the big factor that helped to sweep Barrack Obama into the Presidency was that he was seen as an inspiring and visionary leader. His message gave hope for a better future to come.
The Ethos-Based Speech model uses the force of the leader’s personal and professional credibility combined with hope to move an audience to take action. It is a vital tool for effective leaders when facing times of uncertainty and crisis.
Likewise, Ronald Reagan came to power in a time of uncertainty. He was a powerful visionary speaker. His speech after the Challenger space shuttle disaster was a very clear Ethos-Based speech structure and delivery.
Example Ethos-Based Speech: Ronald Reagan’s Challenger address
The Ethos-Based Speech follows this simple structure:
Starts with a moment in time “4 years ago” or “When we founded this company” or “70 years ago”. Past describes a situation where things were “good”. Past sets a common context. Ronald Reagan’s speech after the Challenger space shuttle disaster begins with a story about what happened 400 years ago – the founding of the USA. This creates a common context and connection for his audience.
Describes today’s reality. Often this is a negative in contrast with the Past. There are challenges. Not everything is rosy. However, the audience needs to see that the leader lives in their world, sees what they see. This clear seeing of today’s real situation establishes credibility. Ronald Reagan’s Challenger speech tells of what he and his wife Nancy saw on TV that morning, how they felt and what it meant. He then speaks to the children, then to the teachers, then to the families of the dead astronauts. He is direct and clear about the real situation and the feelings.
Imagines a better situation in future. “5 years from now, I see a company that is strong…” Outlines what the hard work we need to day will achieve. Connects todays difficulty with a purpose.
I made a short video last week to explain some of the advanced modules we run in IESE for Persuasive Communication skills.
This video explains the IESE Visionary Communication Module
When I step on stage to speak, I get 8 seconds before the listener decides how to categorize me:
worth attention, or
time to check my mobile email
What are your first words?
When I meet someone at a conference, a party, an event… again – we have 8 seconds. Catch attention, or the other person is starting to scan the room for a more interesting conversation partner and beginning to plan her escape: “oh I must get a new drink”, “Is the toilet over there?”, “Oh I must say hello to Anna”…
In those 8 seconds, your whole life is judged on the power of your first words. What are they? There are 7 billion humans… how do you stand out as different? (you are different… but how to sum up a whole life in several words?)…
So often a speaker begins with:
How does that help differentiate from 3 billion?
In-different = Boring
What does stop us for a moment? What delays the escape routine of the listener?
There are 7 triggers of fascination. Brands, people, even you use these triggers every day. You have one that is your “primary” trigger. What is your “primary” trigger?
Power – Take command of the environment
Pasion – Attract with emotion, irrational, irresistible charm
Mystique – Arousing curiosity
Prestige – Increase respect, aspiration
Alarm – Driving urgency
Vice – Creativity, Deviation from the norm, See things differently
Trust – Connection through consistency and predictability
Sally Hogshead explains the 7 triggers in her TEDx talk:
This is an important one. We live in a world of personal branding, quick online reputation checks and a lot of noise. Authors, Entrepreneurs and job seekers get less and less time to explain themselves.
This morning I was listening to Guy Kawasaki pitch his new book “APE” in a webinar on publishing. He talked about the challenge of an author. “Nobody walks into the bookstore thinking I am here to make Guy Kawasaki a little bit richer. He walks in with a problem that he wants to solve. His problem.”
The mentality of someone walking into a bookstore and browsing, and the mentality of an investor share a lot of similarities. They have their own agenda. Either you show you can help that agenda very quickly, or there are 20,000 other books in the bookshop that will get their attention.
If You Can’t Explain what You do in a Paragraph, You’ve Got a Problem
I love the energy of entrepreneurs. I spend a lot of time involved in activities in Barcelona. I love the entrepreneurial energy. It is great to see people and institutions coming together to build the supporting community. We need to get better at connecting 1) the people with the resources with 2) the people with the ideas with 3) the people who can execute these ideas.
If you approach me at a networking event and say “I’d like to talk to you about my business.” I’ll say “Great.” Then I will ask “What problem do you solve?”
This is the point at which 85% lose my attention. They try to steer the conversation to describing the technology, or give a generic statement that uses either the word “platform” or “solution”.
I don’t want to hear about what language you are coding in. I don’t really care about which font you have chosen for your book. I don’t care when you started.
The 3 Ingredients of What We Do
Brad Feld says the “What We Do” Paragraph should be three sentences: (1) what we do, (2) who we do it to, and (3) why you should care. Sometimes this can be two sentences; sometimes four, but never more than a paragraph.
I believe the major risk of early stage startups is getting customers to buy, and showing that you can sell. The words “platform” or “solution” are indicative of an entrepreneur who has not spent much time with real or potential customers.
“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.” Pablo Picasso
I finished a wonderful 3 day seminar this week in Madrid with 30 directors ranging from industries as diverse as agriculture, to mobile handset makers, to pharmaceuticals to drinks. The course began on Tuesday morning at 9am as the participants introduced themselves, their challenges and their objectives for the course.
I listened and what struck me is how they were able to say so little in so many words. The spanish do have a tendency to start their mouth talking, and then engage their brain. They are not alone in this tendency. The world over, un-practiced communicators speak a lot of noise before they find the meaning.
Eliminate the Unnecessary
It is not only art that benefits from the elimination of the unnecessary. Those that speak powerfully say what they need to say and no more. Their is little filler in their communication. Their voices use no ehem, ahh, hmm, uhh noises.
Great poets cram massive meaning in few words. It takes more work to say it well in 10 seconds than in 30, more work to say it well in 3 minutes than in 10 minutes, more work to say it well in 10 minutes than in 3 hours. I don’t want to be lazy in my meaning. If I can say it in 30 seconds then I want to say it in 30 seconds. I have been working on videos in my youtube channel – working to squeeze 20 minute sections of my course into 2 minute videos. If I can say it well in 2 minutes, I know that I can say it powerfully in 20.
At the end of the course, the participants again shared their experiences with the group. It was a great source of pride to me as I saw the efficiency with which they used words. They spoke powerfully, they spoke with emotion, they spoke using silence when silence was more powerful than any word, and they spoke from the heart.
It takes a lot of complex thinking to achieve simple speaking. It takes many hours of reflection alone with oneself to understand our emotions, and the stories that generate our meaning in relation to what happens to us. Great communication is a mirror of the inner state. If my inner state is confused, my confusion will shine through my speech. If my inner state is self-doubt, my self-doubt will shine through my speech. If my inner state is tired, apathetic and unloved, my apathy will shine through.
Learning to communicate well can not be achieve merely through an outward journey, a learning of tools. There is a need for an inner journey, to understand myself. Few achieve success as actors. The rest of us need to real feel passion inside to project passion to an audience. We can’t fake it for very long.
This post is a follow up to the TED-Education post yesterday: What Aristotle and Joshua Bell teach us about Persuasion. If you haven’t already watched the lesson, you’ll need to as background to the material in this post. You can watch it here on TED Education.
What could Joshua Bell do to get his music heard in the subway?
What could you do to improve the chance that someone listens to your ideas? How do you work on the Logos, Ethos and Pathos of your ideas that you will to share?
My answer is available in the 1:20 audio clip here on the blog:
What do you think?
How do you work on the Logos, Ethos and Pathos of your ideas? Comments welcome here.
I wrote “Give a TED talk” on my bucket list 4 years ago, today I feel happy to see the idea come to fruition. It is not a TED Talk per-se, i.e. it is not up there on a stage, but in my mind almost better – a lesson from my class, and a concept that is very important today. We are increasingly overloaded with information, but need to be more and more careful how we trust this information. We want to connect to the meaning behind the information. As the lesson says “Ethos and Pathos are missing”…
What Aristotle and Joshua Bell can teach us about Persuasion
Imagine you are one of the world’s greatest violin players, and you decide to conduct an experiment: play inside a subway station and see if anyone stops to appreciate when you are stripped of a concert hall and name recognition. Joshua Bell did this, and Conor Neill channels Aristotle to understand why the context mattered.
Lesson by Conor Neill, animation by Animationhaus.
View the full lesson, additional resources and the quick quiz on the TED Education website: here
Joshua Bell, “Poet of the Violin”
Often referred to as the “poet of the violin,” Joshua Bell is one of the world’s most celebrated violinists. He continues to enchant audiences with his breathtaking virtuosity, tone of sheer beauty, and charismatic stage presence.
Aristotle (384 BC – 322 BC) was a Greek philosopher and polymath, a student of Plato and teacher ofAlexander the Great. His writings cover many subjects, including physics, metaphysics, poetry, theater, music, logic, rhetoric, linguistics, politics,government, ethics, biology, and zoology. Together with Plato and Socrates (Plato’s teacher), Aristotle is one of the most important founding figures in Western philosophy. Aristotle’s writings were the first to create a comprehensive system of Western philosophy, encompassing morality, aesthetics,logic, science, politics, and metaphysics.
Aristotle’s Rhetoric is an ancient Greek treatise on the art of persuasion, dating from the 4th century BC. The English title varies: typically it is titled Rhetoric, the Art of Rhetoric, or a Treatise on Rhetoric.
As we communicate, there are 3 separate processes at play:
what we say,
what we mean when we say it, and
what we accomplish by saying it
A rhetorician would call these 3 separate processes: 1) locution, 2) illocution, and 3) perlocution. In my courses we use the shorthand “Point X” to refer to the perlocutionary effect. This is where effective persuasive communication must begin.
Speech Act theory was laid out by the philosopher J. L. Austin in his small book “How to do things with Words”.
Words that Change the World
One difference between gods and men is that a god’s words directly change the world, whereas the words of men depend on action of others to cause the change. A god might say “let there be light”, and the sun appears. A man might say “can you turn on the light?” and another person hears, understands and reaches his hand out to the switch.
However, we do have occasions and rituals in which a man’s words do cause a change in the world. These occasions the speech is called “performative”. Consider the following statements:
1a) Conor says, “James and Sarah are married.”
1b) A judge says, “James and Sarah, I now pronounce you man and wife.”
2a) Conor says, “That ball was on the line!”
2b) The umpire says, “Point to Rafa Nadal. Game.”
The a) statements communicate information. These are non-performative utterances. The b) statements directly change the state of the world. The statements of the judge or the umpire are performative utterances.
Performative utterances are not limited to judges, umpires and gods. Consider:
3a) Conor says, “I would bet on New Zealand to beat England”
3b) Conor says, “I bet you €10 that New Zealand beat England today”
This third examples show the establishment of an verbal contract. Legal codes in many nations hold these verbal contracts as valid on a par with written contracts. Performative Speech acts include promising, ordering, greeting, warning, inviting and congratulating.
Types of Meaning
John Searle gives the following classification of illocutionary speech acts:
assertives = speech acts that commit a speaker to the truth of the expressed proposition, e.g. reciting a creed
directives = speech acts that are to cause the hearer to take a particular action, e.g. requests, commands and advice
commissives = speech acts that commit a speaker to some future action, e.g. promises and oaths
expressives = speech acts that express the speaker’s attitudes and emotions towards the proposition, e.g. congratulations, excuses and thanks
declarations = speech acts that change the reality in accord with the proposition of the declaration, e.g. baptisms, pronouncing someone guilty or pronouncing someone husband and wife
Politicians often speak in a manner that treads a fine line between performative and non-performative speech. They make statements that sound like assertive promises, but if you listen exactly to the words, they avoid the full commitment. We hear the promise, but if later their statement is fact-checked, it can slide by as a non-performative.
This has led to a great distrust in any sort of vague speaking. If you mean to make a promise, it is important in today’s environment to state it in clear and non-ambiguous terms.
Remove “maybe”, “try” and “might” from your vocabulary. They turn a performative utterance into a vague, grey mush.
For your words to change the world, be concise and direct with your performative statements.
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