Simply Said, by Jay Sullivan

⭐️⭐️⭐️ Communicating Better at Work and Beyond


Book details
Author Jay Sullivan
Release Date 9 Dec. 2016
Pages 225
Homepage Wiley
ISBN-10 9781119285281
ISBN-13 978-1119285281

my highlights

If we want to improve our ability to connect with others, to understand them and to be understood more clearly, the easiest and most effective way to do so is to focus less on ourselves and more on the other person.
location 325-327
“You're all here today because you're concerned about X. I thought it would be helpful to you if we spent a few minutes talking about. . .”
location 359-361
if we keep thinking, “helpful to you . . .” we challenge what we share and the way we share it.
location 363-365
Being helpful to the audience is the only legitimate reason for sharing the information.
location 367-368
“What’s the key take-away for your audience? What is the one sentence you want resonating in everyone’s head when you are done talking?”
page 4
Most of the time, we only have impact if the person to whom we are speaking can convey our message to someone else.
page 5
Limit your key message to one sentence, preferably fewer than 10 words long.
page 6
Big words do not impress anyone. Big ideas do.
page 7
In a professional setting, you’re not graded on smarts. People assume you are smart. You’re graded on having impact. That means getting people to take action based on your ideas.
page 8
Get to your point. Your goal when communicating is not to be cute or clever. Your goal is to be clear.
page 8
Jargon allows us to be efficient when speaking with others in our field. However, jargon is misconstrued by, or completely unintelligible to, the general population.
page 9
your message is never about you, and it is rarely about your content. It is always about how your audience—your listener or reader—needs to use your content.
page 10
Usually, a simple “The weekend was great. Pretty low key. Just family stuff” is sufficient, followed by, “How was yours?” When the person responds with a similar level of detail, ask one or two questions. Then you’re done. Rapport built. Now segue to work.
page 12
In that setting, the “How are you” isn’t a casual inquiry. It’s really “So, who are you?” There’s an interest in and an attempt to get to know the you under the surface. In those situations, be ready for a longer conversation, to provide more substantive responses, and to ask deeper questions yourself.
page 12
Build rapport by staying positive and turning the conversation back to the other person. Part of building rapport is learning about the other person. If you’re talking, you’re not learning.
page 13
If someone asks me what I do, I never say, “I’m a partner at Exec|Comm.” That doesn’t mean anything to anyone. I say, “I help people communicate better.”
page 15
If I know the person is an accountant, guess what I do for a living. “I help accountants with their communication skills.” It’s all about being relevant to the other person.
page 15
Introducing yourself from the perspective of how you add value communicates not only your contribution to the world around you, but that you view yourself as having impact, rather than just having status.
page 15
You don’t have to end by saying, “The point of the story is. . . .” but you have to come pretty close to that. Two people can hear the same story and derive completely opposite conclusions about the point you are trying to convey. You can both make it easier for your audience and control the message you want them to hear by ending with: “That’s why it’s so important that we. . . .”
page 19
Consider three aspects to structuring your information: The audience’s needs The key message you want listeners to hear Your purpose—to persuade them to take action or to simply convey information
page 23
Let’s say you walk into your boss’s office or cubicle. Because you read Chapter 1, you already know not to start with: “I want to talk to you about Project X.” Instead, you start with: “Since we have a staff meeting tomorrow, I thought it would be helpful to you to give you an update on Project X.”
page 24
By telling her “Everything is on track,” you’ve given her permission to say, “In that case, let’s talk about this later. I have a fire to put out.” The fact that she ended the conversation abruptly is not failure on your part. It’s a huge success. You have given her what she needs at the moment and let her call the shots on which problem to address.
page 24
Regarding Project X, we’ve hit a snag. Now what happens to her body language? She becomes more alert, sitting forward and concentrating on the issue. This is about to become a problem-solving meeting. She needs to focus and brainstorm with you. Again, she can prioritize.
page 25
Regarding Project X, I’ve got good news and bad news. Even a mixed message gives context. Again, now she knows how to hear the content you’re about to convey.
page 25
When you are giving a presentation, avoid using the word “presentation.” I’m here today to give you a presentation on X. No one wants to be “presented to.” Instead, say: I’m here today to talk to you about X.
page 25
Also, if you’re presenting from PowerPoint, avoid using the word “slide.” On that last slide you saw. . . . Don’t talk about the medium. Talk about the content. A moment ago we were discussing. . . .
page 26
If this format seems familiar, it should. This isn’t something we at Exec|Comm invented. This is the oldest format in the world for conveying information. Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Tell them what you’ve got. Tell them what you’ve just told them.
page 26
The gist of the persuasive format is to mention very briefly what you want, and then to spend the majority of your talk telling your audience why they should want it.
page 28
The Hook Start with a hook, something to grab their attention. The best methods for this are to state a problem, quote a startling statistic, or use a rhetorical question.
page 29
Don’t build your case toward your conclusion. The audience hears any details you share in context if you start by telling them where you are headed.
page 32
Tell me where you’re taking me, and I’ll understand the path more clearly.
page 32
To figure out what’s in it for your audience, think about time, feelings, and money. These elements are “universal motivators.”
page 33
We all know it’s important to look at your audience when you speak to a group. Unfortunately, too often that concept is interpreted as “Scan your audience. Make eye contact with as many people as possible.” That doesn’t work well. When you scan the audience, your brain takes in too much information. You notice that one person is doodling, someone else is yawning, someone’s checking his email on his phone, and someone else is coming in late. Your brain tries to process all of that information.
page 43
Your brain is like a computer. When a computer takes in too much data, it freezes. The same is true for your brain. When your brain freezes, your body kicks into a defense mechanism called “fight or flight.” Your brain senses danger and tells your body “it’s not time to think; it’s time to react.” Your body reacts to defend itself. In fight or flight, your breathing rate increases to pump oxygen to your blood. Your heart rate increases to pump the blood to your hands so you can fight and to your feet so you can flee.
page 43
Look at one person at a time for a complete sentence. If you stay with someone for a full thought, five to seven seconds, you’ll experience a number of benefits.
page 44
If you’re sharing information around a boardroom table, the same rule applies: one full thought per person.
page 47
Most people, when they get nervous, speak too quickly. If you speak too quickly in front of an audience, you will sound as if you are apologizing for taking up their time. You’ll diminish your presence and your appearance of confidence.
page 48
Two factors can cause an audience to become overwhelmed by a speaker’s pace: (1) the speed of the speaker’s voice and (2) the absence of pauses between sentences.
page 49
When you pause at the end of a sentence, you give your audience a chance to process what you have just shared.
page 49
We may think that by speaking faster or cramming in more words, we are sharing more content. In fact, we’re sharing less, because our audience has limits on how much it can take in.
page 49
If you can feel any part of the back of the chair against your lower back, chances are you are leaning back in the chair or slouching.
page 56
In addition, because you can’t feel the chair against your back, you are more likely to sit up straight, which increases your height at the table, makes you look more like a player at the meeting, and allows you to breathe easier, which will help you maintain your energy throughout the meeting.
page 56
Why keep your hands apart? As soon as your hands come together, they are likely to engage in the fidgety behaviors that make us seem nervous. When we’re at a meeting, we all have a certain amount of energy. That energy will work its way out of our bodies one way or another. We’ve all seen the man whose leg starts bouncing uncontrollably or who spins his pencil around between his fingers, or the woman who keeps rubbing her hands together or twirling a lock of hair. All of those motions reflect energy trying to find a way out. All of these actions beg other people to misinterpret our intent. Regardless of how we actually feel at the meeting, we can be misperceived as impatient, bored, anxious, distracted, or in need of a bathroom break. Our fidgeting is distracting and diminishes the impact we could have.
page 57
If you have ever been told you look severe or even angry when you aren’t, here’s a simple trick. Simply part your lips slightly when you are listening to someone. Don’t drop your jaw: you’ll look stunned. Just a slight part of the lips is all you need. It softens the look of your face and makes you seem more open to other ideas.
page 60
There’s an odd juxtaposition about presenting to a large group of people. All eyes are on you, and yet the presentation isn’t about you at all. The presentation—why you’re in the room—is about meeting the needs of the audience.
page 61
When you pause, I jump back in so I can top your story or take over the conversation. It’s a fight for control. Instead of that, when the other person is done talking, say, “That’s really interesting” or “Tell me more about that.” That’s a world-view change on the nature of a conversation for the other person.
page 71
There are two reasons to include words on your slides. First, they prompt your memory about what you want to say. Second, they reinforce your oral message to your audience. Our sense of sight is stronger than our sense of hearing. People comprehend and retain 20 percent of what they hear (less if they are teenagers). They “get” 70 to 80 percent of what they both hear and see.
page 98
If you have words on your slides, read every word to your audience.
page 99
Here’s how to make reading your slides work well for everyone. Slides with up to three bullets: Read the heading and all three bullets. Go back to the heading. Re-read it and comment on it. Do the same with each of the three bullets. Slides with more than three bullets: Read the heading and the bullets one at a time, commenting after each.
page 100
Follow the “6 x 6” rule. No more than six words per bullet. No more than six bullets per slide.
page 100
Tell audience members what they are looking at before sharing why they are looking at it.
page 103
“I know you’re concerned about this issue.” Concern is more mature than anger or frustration or disillusionment. It suggests concern for more than just oneself. Most of the time, people will readily agree that what they are feeling is concern.
page 121
Follow a three-part structure when you handle emotion: Acknowledge Relate Transition and answer
page 120
The second step in empathizing with someone is to relate to him or his situation. For example: “I also felt like you do.” “I too have felt that way.” “I too would want to know the same thing if I were you.”
page 122
Always ask yourself: “Why is the reader reading this document?” “What does the reader need to do with the information I am sharing?” “How can I make it effortless for the reader to get the main message?”
page 124
When you write in a professional context, you write to get something done. You want people to either know something or do something based on your writing. Challenge every word in your document.
page 130
Remember, your goal as a writer is to make it effortless for your reader to understand your ideas. Effortless means the reader should be able to read across the line and down the page without stopping.
page 132
The Mid-Sentence Parenthetical In general, a sentence should contain one idea. If you stick in a separate idea or give subtext to the main idea in the middle of a sentence, you confuse the reader and make the reader work harder.
page 133
Look for the “to Be” Verb and Similar Weak Verbs Look for any instances of “is,” “are,” “was,” or “were.” The “to be” verb comments on a state of being. There is no action; there is only existence. See whether a better word conveys your intended meaning. The process for reviewing documents is flawed. It doesn’t meet our needs. (12 words) Both sentences use weak verbs and more words than are needed. Our process for reviewing documents fails to meet our needs. (10 words)
page 137
Very few people care what you did to get to this point with this issue. They care about where they’re going from here.
page 147
Don’t save the secret for the end and spring it on the reader. Let us know where you are headed at the start of the document.
page 150
The last sentence of the first paragraph should convey your key message.
page 150
Write Short Sentences Aim for a maximum of 17 words per sentence. Once a sentence exceeds that length, it becomes hard for our brains to process the information. Your reader will likely need to read the sentence at least twice to understand the content.
page 155
The only person’s behavior we can change is our own. The participant in the class couldn’t change his colleagues’ behaviors. He could only change his behavior in the hope of getting a different response.
page 161
Starting with the person’s name reminds you that your email isn’t about your content; it’s about how the reader will process your content.
page 164
When you send an email that requires a response: Clearly indicate your deadline. Remember, if you write, “by the end of the day,” don’t forget to consider the respective time zones of the readers.
page 167
Unlike face-to-face communication, email is devoid of nuance. You may be able to create a meme or use an emoji when writing to someone you know well or for personal correspondence, but they aren’t appropriate for most workplace emails, particularly when writing to groups. Using an emoji in an email to a client is like making an “air quotes” gesture when giving a major presentation. It can make a grown man look like a teenager.
page 168
Has this not changed?
page 168
If you tend to provide a “data dump,” reduce your explanations to simple statements and ask, “Would more information be helpful?”
page 175
If you tend to hesitate before taking a stand, preface your opinion by explaining that the question is a complex one, which requires some thought, or possibly some research.
page 175
Your main objective should always be simply to learn.
page 176
Assume nothing. Confirm everything.
page 176
You’re in business to solve other people’s problems.
page 177
Step 3: Gather Current Information Once you confirm with the client the purpose of the meeting, the very next word out of your mouth should be “Before.” “Before we get into that. . .” “Before we get started. . .” “Before I explain where things stand. . .” You should then follow with an open-ended question, such as “What’s your greatest concern with the deal?” You may know what his greatest concern with the deal should be, but you won’t know his actual worries unless you ask. It takes a brave person to be willing to derail an entire meeting by opening the conversation to the unknown. But then, timid people never become the rainmakers.
page 178
I start every client call and meeting by asking, “What else is on your agenda today?” or “What else has been going on here that would be helpful for us to discuss?”
page 179
When you are talking to clients, speak from their perspective. Never talk about opportunities. That’s talking from your perspective. Ask them about their needs. That’s their perspective.
page 180
Step 6: Establish Action Steps At the end of the meeting, clear action steps are needed. Most of the time, you must take the next step. Almost always, however, the client has certain duties to perform as well. If your action items are not clear as to who does what by when, then nothing will happen.
page 181
After the meeting, immediately flesh out the notes you took regarding the client’s concerns.
page 181
The moment we step into a management function, we realize that dealing with the “people stuff” takes the majority of our energy.
page 184
Communicating effectively as a manager requires the same overall approach as all communication: you need to focus more on the other person and less on yourself. In the case of delegating an assignment, it’s not about what you need. It’s about what the other person needs in order to give you what you want.
page 186
Helping a junior professional understand how he is part of a greater firm effort is important for helping that person contribute his best. The same is true of the administrative staff members who are indispensable to our work.
page 187
“Just so we are both clear as to what you will be doing, please repeat back to me the scope of the project and your next steps.”
page 190
provide only what information is necessary for the person to accomplish his or her role. People don’t need to know everything you know. You’re providing enough background to give them context, not because the background itself is interesting. Remember, “What additional information would be helpful to you?” It’s a great question in lots of settings.
page 191
your leadership ability depends in large part on your ability to determine what you stand for, where you want to take your followers, and how you want to get there. These concepts are often referred to as your values, your vision, and your plan. One skill common to all effective leaders is the ability to articulate each of these elements, making superior communication skills an essential part of your leadership ability.
page 220
by phrasing the content from the audience’s perspective, you as a leader will have a better chance to connect with your audience members and encourage them to join in the journey.
page 223
Weak: “Our Structured Finance group is the leader in the industry.” Better: “Our Structured Finance group leads the way.”
page 225
If the current plan is not designed to get you where you want to go, determine whether the goal is SMART: Specific Measurable Attainable Relevant, and Time-bound
page 226
The closer we can tie a particular set of objectives to the individual we seek to lead, the better chance we have to connect.
page 228