Communication | The Brainzooming Group - Part 91 – page 91
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In business, people typically spend time thinking about arguing and defending their own points of view. It’s rare though when someone spends time thinking about how they’d argue against themselves.

So next time you’re advocating a particularly contentious position, grab somebody who is less tied to your positions and swap sides – have them argue for your position while you challenge their pro arguments smartly and strongly. Seeing what new logic they develop to defend the position you really hold can help unlock new perspectives you can use later.

Debating against yourself (or at least your viewpoint) is a fantastic way to challenge and shore up your thinking before somebody else forces you to do it on the spot.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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The title may seem harsh, but it’s a safe premise: NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU.

There are probably some exceptions (your parents, a loved one, a few altruistic souls), but unless you’ve EARNED the opportunity for someone’s sustained interest, NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU! This reality is important because most brands have not created important enough relationships with customers for them to be more interested in the brand than themselves.

The questions to ask for any brand communication are:

  • How does this information benefit our audience? AND
  • Why should they care about it?

A brochure draft recently came to me for review. Technically it was written fine, but it contained mind-numbing details about the brand’s history, awards, and operational statistics. The questions above obviously weren’t considered. It was only about what WE wanted to say. There was no recognition of the utter lack of benefit for our customers, and the near certainty that they wouldn’t care about a history lesson on us.

Recently, I’ve received the other end of this treatment as well. A service provider repeatedly leaves me voice mails about his “concerns” about us. Remember, we’re paying his company money to provide us a service. Quite frankly, his concerns aren’t at the top of my list, i.e. I DON’T CARE ABOUT HIM! At least not until after he expresses interest in what benefits us.

Use these two questions liberally when providing information and building relationships. Think and act outside in, seeking first to understand and benefit others. In this way you can hope to win the coveted position in the minds and hearts of customers where they might genuinely care about you.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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As a follow-up to yesterday’s post on combating overly detailed PowerPoint slides, here are two quick checks to keep yourself honest on the detail level and clarity of your slides:

Check #1 – Print out your “finished” PowerPoint presentation with 16 (or at least 9) slides on the page (you can usually do this in the Printer Setup dialog – not directly in PowerPoint). At that resolution, see if you can read what’s on EVERY slide without squinting. If you can, you’re audience will be able to read it as well. If you can’t, neither will your audience, so go back to yesterday’s post and start again.

Check #2 – Cover the headline on each slide and ask, “Can the audience get my point from the slide’s content?” Next, cover up the content and ask, “Can the audience get my point from the headline?” Then determine, “Is the point consistent for both the headline and the content?” The right answer to all these questions is “Yes,” if you’re slide is a good one. If not, you’ve got some more work to do.

Simply using the principles outlined in the past two posts will demonstrate to your audience that you’re thinking about them and are making strides to deliver value to them with your content.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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In a continued effort to dissuade bad presenters from their PowerPoint misconceptions, here’s some advice. If you’ve ever said during a presentation,

“I know this is tough to read, but I think you’ll get the point”

that means even you realize the SLIDE DOESN’T WORK!!! Fix it or get rid of it. Don’t subject the audience to your LAZINESS!!!

Sorry about the outburst, but if you choose to fix the slide, here are three possible approaches:

  • Prioritize the material on the slide – use the forced choice technique approach from a previous post to narrow the content.
  • Help the audience focus – if it’s an overly detailed chart or spreadsheet, consider using custom animation to circle the area that you’re addressing or a picture insert to enlarge what you’re referencing, breaking it up into multiple slides that are legible, or developing a graphic with only the point(s) you’re making.
  • Do something completely different – think hard about whether there’s a story, anecdote, or image you could use to make your point and (I realize this is radical) completely eliminate the detailed slide.

I know that none of this makes sense to a bad presenter, because the audience REALLY needs to see everything on the slide to get your point.

But on behalf of all your audience members, we can’t SEE what’s on the slide anyway; it might as well be blank. So pick a course of action (and reach out to somebody for help if you’re struggling with #2 or #3), and get back to us when you’ve fixed your slides!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Here’s one of our fun strategic planning activities: ice breaker questions for a moderately sized group (15 – 20 people) that doesn’t know each other that well. These ice breaker questions create interaction and put a new twist on the standard, boring personal introduction at meetings.

Give every attendee a sheet with a single, different question and a list of everyone in the meeting. As people gather, each person attempts to ask their question of as many other people as possible, recording the answers on the sheet.

Then during the introductions, instead of people telling about themselves, the entire group reports the one piece of information that they have on the person in a rapid fire format, providing a brief and varied introduction.

You can limit the introductions to 30 or 45 seconds to keep the report out moving; if not, it can take 90 to 120 seconds per introduction.

One key to the lighter side of these ice breaker questions is to mix up the types of questions and have some fun with them. There may some personal, but not too invasive questions (i.e., How far do you drive to work?) along with ice breaker questions that can tie to the person who is doing the asking. I once had a rather notorious beer drinker ask each person about favorite hangover remedies; he had a blast with it as did the people he was asking.

For a first hand account about fun strategic planning activities and an experience with using this one in particular, Jan Harness, the Chief Creative Instigator, reports on her participation in this ice breaker exercise at an event we led.

By the way, do you dream in color or black and white? – Mike Brown

 

fun-ideas-strategic-planningLooking for More Ideas to Make Strategic Planning More Fun?

Yes, strategic planning can be fun . . . if you know the right ways to liven it up while still developing solid strategies! If you’re intrigued by the possibilities, download our FREE eBook, “11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning.”


Download Your FREE eBook! 11 Fun Ideas for Strategic Planning

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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Many people struggle with selling intangible ideas, benefits, and points of view. If you have a discomfort with abstractions, it’s difficult to modify your communication style to create a picture in someone’s mind of something that doesn’t physically exist.

One person who does a wonderful job of that on a weekly basis is Garrison Keillor along with the cast of “A Prairie Home Companion” radio program. Every Saturday afternoon, they bring to life a whole host of situations, characters, and even products that are completely fictional. So for today’s Change Your Character exercise, let’s delegate our task of conveying intangible ideas to them and see how the cast would approach the task by:

  • Writing a script
  • Incorporating rich, vivid language
  • Featuring reoccurring characters
  • Employing a variety of entertainment formats
  • Telling stories
  • Acting out skits with multi-talented performers
  • Booking guests to help act out the stories
  • Interviewing guests
  • Intermixing real and imagined entities (sponsors, characters, etc.)
  • Mixing comedy and drama
  • Incorporating sound effects
  • Having a band play music and theme songs
  • Performing in front of a studio audience that provides real reactions to the material

Step right up to the microphone and share three new possibilities for helping your audience visualize intangible ideas based on each of the techniques above. If you need an additional push, try some Powdermilk Biscuits – they “give shy persons the strength they need to get up and do what needs to be done.”

Check out a compilation of “Change Your Character” creative thinking exercises and information on its use.  – Mike Brown

 

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The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at info@brainzooming.com or call us at 816-509-5320 to learn how we can help you enhance your strategy and implementation efforts.

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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While in South Florida, I had dinner with Dave Brown (no relation) who introduced me to my wife and was our boss on the student activities board at Fort Hays State University. We later went to Southern Illinois University as a result of Dave introducing us to his former student activities boss from grad school.

It’s embarrassing that it’s been twenty years since we’ve seen each other because Dave was the first strategic mentor in my career. I learned a number of very important lessons from Dave that have served me incredibly well since; they can probably benefit you also:
  • Whenever you’re bringing even a few people together, it’s an event and you should make it special. Under Dave’s tutelage, I produced small coffee house performances and a 5,000 person concert. No matter how many people were attending, he emphasized making the event something memorable. That perspective shaped me to view every meeting or presentation, no matter how small, as an event where there’s a duty to create a memorable experience.
  • You have to plan and manage the whole host of details for any event. Dave demonstrated the discipline of planning and producing large events. It became quickly clear I wouldn’t get into concert production (Kansas City’s most well-known promoter told me to forget it, because “you start at the bottom and work your way down”). Yet when another mentor entered my career later, and our company started producing large events, I was able to step into a production and on-stage role seamlessly even though I was a market research guy. That opportunity has profoundly shaped my career the last 10 years.
  • Create a huge vision and stick to it amid all odds against you accomplishing it. Dave created an incredible, nationally-recognized concert series at a small Western Kansas college, attracting an unbelievable string of #1 chart acts. He did it with an often hostile university administration that completely missed the significance of his accomplishments in gaining attention for the university. It was audacious, but it was the right thing for the school, and Dave was going to make it happen no matter what.

There’s a host of other things in my life that Dave shaped, but within this short post, he accounted for me meeting my spouse, making the introduction that ultimately led to me getting a nearly free graduate education, turning me into an “event person,” and paving the way to successfully seize one of the biggest opportunities of my career.

All I can say is “thank you,” and let’s stay in better touch Dave. And if you have a strategic mentor and haven’t done either of these two things lately, I’d suggest you locate them and do the same!

Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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