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Three biggest mistakes people make in communicating

For the last 15 years I've traveled the country, getting paid to talk on on live television, host global seminars, and train top CEOs in the art of telling their story. I've spoken to the most brilliant people... who couldn't articulate their own story or vision to save their life, and I've heard from men and women who speak plainly, but get to the heart of the matter with piercing clarity.

For the individuals who struggled to communicate their story, mission, or goals, I observed three common pitfalls. Lucky, for you, today I'm feeling generous, and I'm going to share the three top mistakes people make in any form of communications. And remember communications impacts every part of our lives, from negotiating your salary, to ordering your steak to your preference, to dating, and even getting out of a speeding ticket...

Mistake Number 3: SAYING TOO MUCH!!!

Imagine communication like a recipe for tonight's dinner. When you go into the kitchen, are you going to pullout every ingredient from the pantry, fridge, and frost bitten freezer to make a delicious meal? Of course not, that would be a disaster, and would likely send you to the hospital, or at least banish you to the bathroom for the following 12 hours praying to the porcelain gods.

Instead of throwing every ingredient in... you select 5-6 strong and complimentary ingredients melding together into a delicious and distinct dish. This... (I LOVE food by the way) is how I look at communications. When you say too much, you say nothing at all.

Whether you're negotiating a salary, encouraging your significant other to book a romantic trip, or pitching your business to investors... don't you dare throw every ingredient (word) at them... pick the best ones and let them shine.

Here is a tip I give my paying clients (please don't tell them I'm offering this up for free,) find your "golden nuggets and let them SHINE."

Here's an example. I was working with a medical researcher who created a new way to utilize catheters during heart surgery, this was truly life saving stuff. He spent about 45 minutes talking about his medical research and data points that were no doubt incredible, but they went on an on and were highly technical. I looked around and watched potential investor's eye's glaze over as this brilliant researcher went through life saving information.

Afterwards we spoke... I asked him WHY this project? He then shared something that was not in his piles and piles of data, he dedicated his professional pursuits to heart treatments because his father died of a heart attack way too young.

I then asked him to explain to me like I was a 5-year-old the following things, what is the current problem your idea is solving, what makes it different than what else is on the market, and what would this have meant for your own father's diagnosis?

His answers took 3 minutes, they were plain, free of jargon and data, and easily understood. They were what he needed to say in his next pitch (which was successful.)

Less is more, if people want more detail... they WILL ask.


This is an interviewer's (and interrogator's) favorite tactic... sit in silence and the other party will break and blather. When you're communicating your wants, needs, your point, whatever it is... once you've said it... stop... PERIOD.

If there is silence, so be it. Wait the silence out. You have said what you have to say. Let the other party respond in their own time.

When you fill the void of silence you often do it by negotiating yourself down. If you just asked for a raise and the boss is quiet... you may interject... "well, I know the economy is down... or "I understand you have budgets to stick to..." whatever it is... let the other party say it.

Once you've said your piece, silence is strong. Wait patiently and listen to the eventual response.


For my people pleasers (myself included) this is a tough one... If you gear your script 100% to your audience you are losing yourself. Talk about the things that MOST excite you, that you MOST believe in, that you MOST want... these are the TRUE aspects of what you have to say. If you dull them down or hid them for others you are in fact being dishonest and counter productive.

Am I saying don't think about your audience whatsoever? Absolutely not? Let them know you see them, let them know what your proposal can do for them, but be clear in what YOU want. It will make the process of finding the right partner, job, media partership much quicker and easier than being a chameleon who doesn't know who they really are.


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