Communicate to Influence…

…write to inform.

Communication is about getting others to adopt your point of view, to help them understand why you’re excited (or sad, or optimistic or whatever else you are.) If all you want to do is create a file of facts and figures, then cancel the presentation and send in a report.

– Seth Godin

I’m headed to Atlanta GA today for the 2012 Worship Facilities Expo (WFX). I have been very fortunate and honored to have been a part of every WFX since it began in Nashville TN in 2005. Because WFX held two events in some years, this will be the 10th time I have made a presentation (or two – or three) at the event.

I would like to think I’ve come a long way in my communication style.

When I look back at that first presentation, I cringe. Not because of the topic or content – it was well received. I just remember it being a very dense verbal communication that was all one way – a classic data dump. Coupled with my rapid-fire delivery, (I was born in Nashville TN, but must have been vaccinated with a phonograph needle set at 78 rpm. Note – anyone under 30 reading this will have to check Wikipedia for the scoop on that) I’m surprised the audience remained upright.

But they did (I actually have proof – two of the participants that day were on the leadership team at Alliance Bible Fellowship, and we started a conversation that day that eventually led the church to pick me and my company (at the time) for a $5.6 million dollar, multi-phase construction project that is in its third phase at this writing). But I digress.

Our brains have two sides – an emotional right side and a logical left side. When you show up to speak to an audience, you can be sure they are showing up with both sides of their brains ready to be engaged. If you aren’t aware of the way you talk, the way you dress, your body language, and by the way, your content, you may be tuned out by the second slide of your PowerPoint or Keynote or Prezi.

You can wreck a communication process with lousy logic or unsupported facts, but you can’t complete it without emotion. Logic is not enough.

According to Seth Godin, a home run presentation is easy to describe: You put up a slide. It triggers an emotional reaction in the audience. They sit up and want to know what you’re going to say that fits with that image. Then, if you do it right, every time they think of what you said, they’ll see that image (and vice versa).

A presentation isn’t an obligation – it’s a privilege.

If you’re in Atlanta attending WFX, drop in on one of my presentations Wednesday 9/19 at 11 AM (The Servant Blueprint) in A313 or 3 PM (Selling Change) in A314.

As Andy Stanly says, I’d love the chance to challenge your mind in order to change your life.

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From Information to Influence

Jack Ryan, the historian-CIA-politician hero from author Tom Clancy’s fiction writings of the 1990s is always good for a quote:

Next time Jack, write a #@$!! memo!

He muttered this to himself as he was being lowered in a raging storm from a helicopter to a submarine, on the way to averting WWIII. His research led to an astounding discovery, but it was his willingness in presenting the information first-hand that led to the quote above. It may make for good summertime reading and an action movie, but there is actually an instructive lesson in it for anyone who seeks to become a better communicator.

The written medium is a cognitive, linear, literal, and didactic process that’s great for transferring information.

Speaking is the medium of action and influence. In speaking, we create an experience where people get us and our message together – and the two are inseparable. In speaking, we use information to influence. The power is in the presentation.

The two previous paragraphs come from Bert Decker’s book “You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard.” Whenever I’m working on major presentations I always find myself coming back for a refresher course.

This week I’ll be posting excerpts from this book along with observations for ChurchWorld.