This is a series of 10 interviews with the expert coaches during the IESE EMBA Intensive week 2013.  (If you are viewing via rss, video on the blog here).  The Expert Contributors are:

  • Tony Anagor ([twitter-follow screen_name=’lifestyledmc’])
  • Florian Mueck ([twitter-follow screen_name=’the7minutestar’])
  • Conor Neill (Me!) ([twitter-follow screen_name=’cuchullainn’])
  • Tobias Rodrigues ([twitter-follow screen_name=’conflictmentor’])
  • John Zimmer ([twitter-follow screen_name=’zimmerjohn’])

The Speaking Guru Interviews

Questions from You

What questions do you have for next year’s set of expert interviews?

6 Keys to Get Email Read

Here are 6 keys to engage the reader when you ask for some help via email:

  1. Indicate the social connection between sender and reader – where did you meet?  who put you in contact?  “We met at the Foundum Unplugged conference 2 weeks ago”
  2. Understand the readers perspective – what context (background information) does the reader need to take a decision/act upon the email?  This is often best provided as a url link to supporting information so as to keep the email body short.
  3. Explain why the reader was specifically selected as a source of potential help.  “I am contacting you because you have over 8 years of experience in the industry”
  4. Show that you have already made some effort to understand the domain before asking for help.  “I have spoken to X and to Y, I have read Z book.”
  5. Keep it short.  Many emails are much too long – the sender has no edit process before sending the “draft” email.   (Here’s a nice email policy called three.sentenc.es)
  6. Clarify exactly what is wanted: No effort to clarify what you are asking for.  ”Help” is too vague. What do you want the reader to do when they finish reading?  “Meet next Monday”; “Call me to set up a site visit”; “Forward the email to John”.

What gets email read in your inbox?

What tips do you have?

There is a power tool in negotiation.  I would say this is the single most useful tactic that I use in my years of selling (I sell private jets among other high value products).

It is not competitive, it is not aggressive, it is not avoiding anything.

It does not require massive intellectual development, years of training or genetic gifts.

It requires no study, no poetic ability nor any magical secret ingredients.

It is …

 

Silence.

Silence.

Me: “What is your best price?”

Supplier: “Blah, blah [Product feature #2], blah… I can offer you €100”

Me: “Hmmm.” and wait…  10…  20 seconds…  (tension increasing)

Supplier: “Ok, I can give you €90…  but that is our best price”

Me:  “Hmmm.”  and wait…  10… 20 seconds… (tension increasing)

… and on…

If someone asked you, “What is your job?”, what would your response be?  Go ahead, take a minute to think about your answer.  I asked a similar question a few weeks ago in my post Become Indispensable: Solve Interesting Problems)

Professor Fred Kofman tells a story about a question that changed his outlook on this question.

Did you say that you’re a coach? Entrepreneur? Do you manage operations? Maybe CEO?  Well, as Fred points out, what you think is your job is not actually your job.

Your Job is Not Your Job

Here is Fred’s presentation:

How do you answer now?

Did Fred change your mind?  (Fred’s full presentation is available here on youtube)

How to Give a Killer Presentation

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

Dave Kerpen
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

Tristan Wember
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

Diapositiva14

The Webinar:

This is the recording of the IESE Develop Your Communication Skills webinar we ran on 13th April 2013.  It is here on the IESE Business School YouTube channel.

Storify Summary of the Webinar via Twitter Hashtag: #iesewebinar

Resources cited in the Webinar:

Chiara Ojeda
Chiara Ojeda

Chiara Ojeda who writes the Tweak Your Slides blog has recently posted a new set of visuals called Presenting As Yourself. It has powerful visuals. It provides great reminders of the important aspects of communicating with impact; communicating in a way that engages the audience and lets your message stick.

Presenting As Yourself

What are your favourite books, blogs, youtube videos, general resources on presentation delivery?

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 on violin

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

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.

The Words, the Meaning, the Effect

JL Austin’s short book

As we communicate, there are 3 separate processes at play:

  1. what we say,
  2. what we mean when we say it, and
  3. 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

Political Speaking

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.

SoundCloud

“We have study hall at the beginning of our meetings.” says Jeff Bezos.

Staff meetings at Amazon begin with 30 minutes of silent reading.

Powerpoint is easy for presenter, hard for audience

Jeff Bezos of Amazon

“The traditional kind of corporate meeting starts with a presentation. Somebody gets up in front of the room and presents with a powerpoint presentation, some type of slide show.  In our view you get very little information, you get bullet points.  This is easy for the presenter, but difficult for the audience.  And so instead, all of our meetings are structured around a 6 page narrative memo.”

All meetings are structured around a 6 page memo

“When you have to write your ideas out in complete sentences, complete paragraphs it forces a deeper clarity.”

Why don’t you read the memos in advance?

“Time doesnt come from nowhere. This way you know everyone has the time. The author gets the nice warm feeling of seeing their hard work being read.”

“If you have a traditional ppt presentation, executives interrupt.  If you read the whole 6 page memo, on page 2 you have a question but on on page 4 that question is answered.”

And so that is what we do, we just sit and read.

“Think Complex, Speak Simple”

I love this idea.  In our communications courses we talk about “think complex, speak simple”.  It is hard work to prepare well enough to be able to speak simple.  Most presenters are figuring out what they really want to say as they are presenting.  This is a terrible waste of an audience.

This video is “The Single Most Important Ingredient in Becoming Influential”:

These quotes come from the Charlie Rose interview with Jeff Bezos.  It is available here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12656

NEW August 2015: View the Original email memo sent by Jeff Bezos (thanks to Pete Abilla)

P.S. If you liked this post you might also like 16 Lessons from the European HR Directors Summit and Zero Executive Presence: When I speak, People don’t listen. Why is that?

Discussion of this Post

Twitter:

Lots of Debate on Reddit:

Main Discussion Page http://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/1ebavs/amazon_staff_meetings_no_powerpoint/

  • [friedice5005] Powerpoint isn’t the problem. It’s a very useful tool to augment information you are trying to get across. The problem is people people who are bad at it using it as a crutch. Powerpoint should basically be an outline of what you’re talking about with MAJOR discussion points and any images or graphs you need to show. It should not be blocks of text that you read verbatim.
  • [via Yajirobi ] if you dont integrate people into it, they just sleep. Forcing them with made up questions is a bad idea too. Getting random questions from the audience is the best way to do it. Its a GIFT. They make the presentation good for you, without any effort from your part.
  • [via EngineerVsMBA]I experienced this system, and I loved it. I will use it in every job from here on out. Let me explain why:1.) It requires meaningful preparation by the presenter. They cannot hide behind pretty slides, and you can’t use the usual confusion tactics. If you can’t fit it in six pages, you didn’t prepare enough.2.) You know everyone is going to read it.3.) These meetings are intense! The participants can’t just sit back and relax. They are digging into it. If you are the presenter, you can use that time to send some emails, or do some other work.4.) People with poor communication skills can’t suck the life out of a meeting. It allows good ideas to come out. There is always that guy that talks too much, and this meeting shuts him up.5.) This isn’t for the every-day meeting. This is for the multi-million-dollar business deal. Anything you would typically reserve for an hour-long power-point presentation.Power-point is for selling a concept or an idea. The written word is for discussion. Anyways, a good exec will print out the power points and make notes on those anyways. Might as well tell him exactly what you think instead of letting him interpret your spoken word.

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