Change is…

Healthy.

Organizations are not alive in a literal sense – but they have to change and adapt in order to stay alive.

Nancy Duarte, writing in “Resonate,” talks about the life cycle of organizations – start-up, growth, maturity, and eventually decline. But it doesn’t have to be that way.

An organization should make continual shifts and improvements to stay healthy.

In order to do that well, leaders must excel at persuasion.

Movements are started, products are purchased, philosophies are adopted, subject matter is mastered – all with the help of persuasive presentations.

Presentations create a catalyst for meaningful change by using human contact in a way that no other medium can.

Go ahead – change the world.

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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.

The Motivating Process

All communication is selling. People buy on emotion and justify with fact.

– Bert Decker, You’ve Got to be Believed to be Heard

This week I’ve been recapping a section of Bert Decker’s great book on communication, “You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard.” He has created the following chart that shows the path from information to influence.

The end result of the process displayed above (and described in blog posts herehere and here) is that your communication will move from information to influence. You will be able to more effectively persuade your listeners, not just by the power of your person, but by the power of your presentation as well.

As leaders, we often think that if we say words, people will get them. That is not necessarily true. They might get the words and our message if we are enthused and confident – but not if we’re nervous and we block our message by inappropriate behavioral habits.

In the matrix depicted above, your communications reach their maximum effectiveness when they are in the active and emotion quadrant. In Decker’s words, you have moved from merely providing information to a place where you are influencing the listener. You have created a climate for motivation.

John Maxwell has a famous definition of leadership: “Leadership is influence.”

If you believe that, then what are you doing today to make your communications move from information to influence?

The Involving Process, The Memorable Process

Author and communication expert Bert Decker has developed a matrix that shows how to move your communications from information to influence. A previous post was about the educational process; today  a look at the next two quadrants of his matrix: the Involving Process and the Memorable Process.

The Involving Process

To move people from passive to active, there are many options. One of the most important is to convey our energy and enthusiasm, which resonates in the listener. It’s hard to be passive when someone is excited, but it’s easy when someone is uninteresting, low on energy, and monotonous.

There are several things you can do that deal more with content and process. You can ask questions, getting people to think. You can do interactive exercises, or take people through simulated exercise or though processes. How about fill-in-the-blanks in handouts? However you can, get people involved, and move them from passive to active by interacting with them.

The Memorable Process

Moving people from the intellectual to the emotional realm is more difficult. This idea is not about ignoring the intellectual or reasoning processes in the listener, but adding the emotional dimension to your content. This is not something that is taught to us, but it is a very powerful mindset that you can learn quickly and use continuously.

Emotional perspective comes from the energy of our behavior, of course, but it can also be applied in our content. We want to become memorable by using techniques and methods that get us out of the dry and didactic world of facts and figures. We want to use our creativity, to become storytellers and interesting visualizers, to move deeper into the world of ideation and metaphor.

Decker’s book is entitled “You’ve Got to Be Believed to Be Heard.” It’s a great resource for anyone who speaks before a group of people – from 5 to 500. My focus (which ends tomorrow) has only been on one section – From Information to Influence.  There are four other sections that will help you create, organize, and then deliver – powerfully – your message.

Tomorrow: The Motivating Result

The Educational Process

Author and communicator Bert Decker developed a chart that illustrates the path from information to influence. In developing it, he starts with a typical four-quadrant diagram, and then expands it one further step, finally adding a diagonal path.

Step one of the path from information to influence starts with the educational process.

Starting in kindergarten and continuing through college into graduate school, we are mostly taught passively. Basically we sit in chairs and teachers lecture at us. They appeal to our intellect, our cognitive side.

That is our educational system, and it continues into business and into life. It is the world of information. It is on the Passive and Intellectual side of Decker’s chart, Create Your Experience.

Take a journey back to high school or college, and remember your favorite teacher. It probably wasn’t the teacher with the longest tenure, or who was most published, or who had the most degrees. It was probably the person who was the most excited about the subject – and that enthusiasm was contagious.

You caught it, and because of that they influenced you to “get” the information and knowledge.

The journey from information to influence has to start with the Educational Process, but there has to be movement: from passive to active, and from the intellectual to the emotional mental states.

Tomorrow: the Involving Process.