Compassion: The (not so) secret ingredient to effective communications

Today's blog is posted by Jerry Johnson, executive vice president at Brodeur Partners.

What is compassion and why is it so popular?
 
You noticed it during crisis and most recently during the tragedy that was Hurricane Sandy. We hear stories, see pictures, watch videos of those in distress and we feel for them. In some cases, we actually do something for them!
 
Put that in the long list of recent disasters –from Haiti to Katrina to 9/11. We see, we hear, and we are drawn into action because we feel compassion for another.
 
But if you look closely you will see “compassion” playing out in almost every form of effective communication.  Sometimes, like in the case of emergencies, it is blatant. Other times the tug on the compassion thread can be ever so subtle.
 
The recent presidential campaign is but one example. Who cares more about all those “job creators”? Democrats? Republicans?
 
Do you pity the poor small business because it is burdened with regulation gone amok? Or do you have compassion on them because they are just looking for the same low interest loan to ride out the current economic downturn that the big banks get?
 
Or what about young people? Who cares for them? Are you sad for the young because they’ve been saddled with debt by profligate government waste? Or are you sad for them because instead of investing in education we’re sending all the tax breaks to wealthy businesses that would just as soon hire in Mombai, India, as they would in Mobile, Alabama?
 
In either case both campaigns are vying for the same thing: your compassion.
 
We like to dress up in compassion
 
In our new study, we asked people to review a list and assign labels to themselves. On that list were many admirable qualities some of which have defined American culture and history: idealistic, leader, ambitious, risk-taker, optimistic. There were ten in all. But from that list the label that people thought most applied to them by far was “compassionate.” Indeed, over two-thirds of Americans felt that this label not only applied to them but applied strongly applied to them.
 
Does this mean that these people are kind-hearted and caring? Not really. Rather it means that compassion is something that they like to associate themselves with. That is, compassion is something that they either think they are or would like to be.
 
Why are we so fixated with compassion and being compassionate? This question has long bedeviled the academy, from psychologists to neuroscientists. Compassion is a curious thing because it does not fit neatly into the prevailing paradigms of current evolutionary theory (survival of the fittest) or economic theory (pursuit of self-interest). A good testament to how hard compassion is to reconcile with the latter was President George Bush’s catchy notion of  “compassionate conservatism.”
 
What is compassion and why do people want to associate themselves with it? For people of faith that answer draws back to their worldview of the divine and the inherent sanctity of life. Virtually every religious faith has a version of the “golden rule”.
 
But recently there has been a flurry of efforts by secular thinkers to explain compassion in an evolutionary sense, including theories by Sam Harris (“The Moral Landscape”) and Jonathan Haidt (“The Righteous Mind”). Their explanations suggest that compassion is indeed a “survival” skill not just for individuals but more importantly for communities, societies and nations. Within a group, compassion makes that group stronger.
 
Whatever side you may come down on, what is clear is that compassion is a driving force in how with think, believe, support, and attach ourselves to individuals, ideas, and organizations.
 
Some advice to marketers
 
We typically associate communications campaigns that pull on the thread of compassion with highlighting people at risk – preferably the innocent (a.k.a. Christian Children’s Fund, St. Jude’s Hospital).
 
But if you look very closely, you’ll find product purveyors embedding the idea of compassion in all sorts of messages.

  • Our products are “kinder” to the environment.
  • Buy these diapers because they are gentler to your baby.
  • If you care for your family’s safety, you’ll buy this car.
  • If you care about your family’s education, you’ll buy this technology.

If you really love your cat, you’ll buy our cat food.
 
So our advice to marketers: follow the compassion.
 
Unless you are marketing to sociopaths, compassion has to be a critical element of any brand, marketing and sales strategy. Identify how it is that what you do helps others. And then make it simple, easy and fun to bring other people along for that ride.
 
And don’t forget that genuine external communications begins from within your organization. That is, don’t forget to practice internally the compassion that you encourage externally.
 
Because everyone wants to think they are compassionate. We just need to help them get there.

BP triggers dark side for augmented reality

No sooner did brand managers and marketers discover augmented reality (AR) as the next big marketing frontier then did consumers find a way to use AR to voice their own opinions.
 
AR developers Mark Skwarek and Joseph Hocking are keeping BP’s feet to the fire with a new AR iPhone app that lets users visualize the Deepwater Horizon oil spill at their local BP gas station or wherever they happen to see a BP logo.
 
Called “the leak in your hometown,” the app transforms the logo into the source of the deep sea gusher. Just point your phone at the logo and your outrage and sense of futility over the unceasing disaster is rekindled.

If you’re new to augmented reality, it’s technology that overlay’s digital information and imagery onto your view of real-world things, typically using a webcam or smartphone camera as the visual conduit.
 
The BP gusher app is pretty simplistic as far as AR apps go. Yet it’s a brand manager’s nightmare. As the app’s creators describe on their blog … 
An important component of the project is that it uses BP’s corporate logo as a marker, to orient the computer-generated 3D graphics. Basically turning their own logo against them. This repurposing of corporate icons will offer future artists and activists a powerful means of expression which will be easily accessible to the masses and at the same time will be safe and nondestructive.
Remember back when brand managers first swooned over the potential of social media as a new direct-to-consumer marketing channel, not yet realizing how the technology gives consumers their own, sometimes critical, voice? With AR, it’s déjà vu all over again. Google ‘augmented reality’ and ‘marketing’ and you'll see what I mean. But the effusive praise by marketers will soon be tempered as they discover that AR can be a double-edged sword, as much a threat to their companies’ corporate reputation as it is a powerful marketing tool. 

Surprising job titles reflect changing times in PR and communications

For decades, the same titles were used for public relations and communications professionals in companies, agencies and organizations. These included Director, Marketing Communications; Manager, Public Relations; Account Executive; Vice President, Corporate Communications; Director, Community Relations; Publicist; Director, Government Relations; Account Director.
As our industry speedily reshapes itself – driven by historic grassroots empowerment, two-way conversations and brand building communities – so are the titles reflecting the jobs we do and responsibilities we bear. 

Consider, for example, some of the current PR & communications job openings:

  • Manager, Cyclical Communications (Target)
  • Director, Global Partner Communications & Engagement (Starbucks)
  • Director of Innovation (Netflix)
  • Director of North American Positioning (Novozymes)
  • Web Evangelist (Microsoft)
  • Chief Content Officer (PBS)
  • Social Media Manager (Milestone Internet Marketing)
  • Manager, Green Marketing & Wellness (confidential search)
  • Competitive Intelligence and Social Media Strategist (EMC)  
  • Online content & Communications Manager (Penny Saver/Harte Hanks Shoppers)
  • Senior Director, Internet Communications and Marketing (Save The Children)
  • Director Corporate Responsibility (Delhaize America)
While the classic job titles will stick around, there’s an emerging trend where companies, organizations and agencies are deliberately re-casting roles and responsibilities. How are the new titles different from the old? We see five transformations unfolding:   
  1. Some communications and PR titles are moving away from general functional descriptions (“communications,” “community relations,” etc.), shifting toward a more emotive position (innovation; evangelist, strategist, responsibility).
  2. New titles are embracing online community and consistent two-way communication (engagement, social media, cyclical communications).
  3. They mirror major societal changes (green marketing; web; wellness).
  4. Some of the new titles are trending big picture (positioning; global partner, competitive intelligence).
  5. Authentic, compelling & engaging content creation is central to branding success (the emergence of the Chief Content Officer).

5 reasons CEO's hesitate to adopt social media

With so much talk about social media (especially in the PR/communications/branding industry), you might think every company is excited about it and actively participating.
Well, that’s still not the case.

According to the 2009 Business.com B2B social media benchmark study:
• Only 22% of B2C companies use social media to produce webinars or podcasts
• Only 36% of B2B companies use it for recruiting
• Only 55% of B2C companies host blogs
• Only 50% of B2B companies upload content to social networks
• Only 49% of B2C companies are using Twitter

While many not-for-profits, consumer-facing and B2B companies are all over social media, many remain laggards, hesitant to take the dip.

Why the fear, uncertainty and trepidation (or lack of belief in social media)? 

Here are the 5 most often heard misconceptions some CEO’s still have about social media: 

5. “It’s too time consuming” – Many companies are hesitant because they know it takes time – and talent – to do it right. Social media isn’t a start-stop thing; consistency is the key to ROI, proof and returns. The companies who hold this view typically don’t have the infrastructure to Tweet, blog, comment, refine and search. While it’s not a good idea to start writing a blog and then stop (leaving black holes for weeks or months), it may be – arguably – even worse to never begin at all because measurable opportunity is lost. The more companies experiment with social media and learn from it, the more corporate confidence will grow.

4. “It’s still early days” - YouTube just celebrated its 5 year anniversary. LinkedIn has been in widespread use since 2005. Blogs have been mainstream since 2004 and over 5 million are being created monthly. Despite this ample evidence, many companies have the misconception that social media is still emerging. They’re waiting for more … evidence. 

3. “Where’s the proof?” – Some executives of small- to mid-size companies look around their immediate ecosystem and draw wrong conclusions. Employees aren’t using social media for the business, but it’s because management isn’t advocating it. Traditional marketing campaigns may appear to be producing meaningful-enough results, but that’s because the superior measurement data generated by social media isn’t being generated. The CEO also isn’t feeling the heat from any … competitors.

2. “My competitors aren’t doing it” – Some companies compete in markets where nearly all the players parody each other. Differentiation is non-existent. Price is the only edge. Everyone sounds the same; they all co-opt each other’s messaging. Companies lead with feature-laden product discussions. There’s no brand personality. Everyone’s stuck, afraid to make a move in a new direction, worried about risking a misperception from … customers. 

1. “My customers don’t use it” – This is the most common refrain of all from CEO’s. “My customers aren’t on Facebook. They don’t buy products after watching YouTube videos. They don’t read blogs. So why should we use social media?” While this may be the reality, today, the truth is it’s another Catch-22: customers aren’t using social media because the companies they deal with aren’t using it. Social media is transformational: once companies start using it, their customers get engaged.  Individual voices come alive within a previously personality-free corporation and create brand personalities that yield competitive edge. You have to build the bridges first, then people cross over, communities get built and results follow.

Apple iPad (cringe) reminds us how brands succeed by transforming experiences

To borrow a line from Scrooge, “I’m as giddy as a drunken man.” With today’s Apple iPad intro, it feels like Christmas.
 
I was glued to Engadget’s live blogfeed of the announcement. Apple is leveraging its iPhone technology in a new tablet format, adding bells and whistles like unlocked, no contract, and cheap 3G data plans, a keyboard dock and the iBookstore.
 
But once again, as we’ve seen in the past with Apple, the whole may be larger than the sum of the parts.
 
In the tech industry we pay homage to “innovation” as the ultimate springboard for leadership positioning and killer differentiation.
 
Lots of companies make products, but only a few reinvent how we learn, communicate and experience. Remember trying to use a pre-iPod Mp3 player? Mine was a Diamond Rio; frustrated and ticked off are two reactions that come to mind.
 
Remember how you felt the first time you used an iPod? For me, it was the same feeling I get when I step foot in a new country. Wow, this is someplace different, and it’s cool, and a little scary but I’m happy to be here and I want to discover this new place.
 
The iPod wasn’t just innovative because of its simple design and intuitive ease of use. The kicker was the iTunes store – it gave us a whole new way to stay on top of music, broaden our horizons, consume and share at far less cost. The entire experience of finding and listening to music was transformed.
 
I used to think it was de rigueur to be able to stay in touch via e-mail on my mobile phone. But now as an iPhone user, I can’t fathom how I was satisfied with a device that made surfing the web painful and offered little else.

The iPhone gives me a broader, more fulfilling experience. While typing is a little less speedy, I now have - in one device – painless Internet, much better viewing, a decent camera, games, nifty video, all the music I love, instant social networking connections, an e-book reader and access to over 140,000 apps. Nice trade-up.

The iPad isn't perfect (bad name; doesn't multi-task; no webcam; no widescreen; no GPS) but it may hold similar long-term promise.

If I was a newspaper or magazine publisher, I’d be more hopeful. This device has the potential to help reinvent the publishing industry like iTunes reinvented the music industry. As I watched today’s New York Times demo, it reminded me of the Harry Potter movies where animated video moves across “The Daily Prophet” student newspaper. The iPad features drop down context menus; re-sizing of pages with a pinch; and embedded video inside articles. If the content providers and app developers get onboard with this vision, it could be a reinvention of how we read and learn.

It remains to be seen whether the iPad will make it or die a Newtonian death. The lesson I walk away with is that consumer and B2B brands can endear themselves to their customers - and potentially win - if they focus on innovating customer experiences vs. merely announcing feature-rich products. The former is a benefit-laden differentiation that’s damn hard to disrupt.

My top 10 PR, communications and branding trends of 2009

Top 10 PR, communications and branding trends of 200910. New levels of ravenous mass media spotlighting. Arguably, 2009 featured an insane level of “we will not let this story go.” Already saturated news stories were repeated - endlessly - way past the point of saturation. From balloon boy to Octomom to Gosselin vs. Gosselin to Amanda Knox, the same B-level stories were relentlessly beaten to death. While this isn’t a new trend, it is an increasingly annoying one.
 
9. Under-reported storytelling. One of the by-products of over-reporting is under-reporting. Too many newsworthy stories either didn’t get covered or were given marginal, brief treatment. These stories included (as TIME magazine summarized in its year-end issue) Nigerian blood for oil, experimenting with children and the Maoist insurgency in India.
 
8. Twitter & Facebook went legit for business. In 2009, Twitter broadened from a consumer-level experience to a pragmatic corporate communications tool. An increasing number of businesses are using it for real-time updates, blatant marketing and thought leadership. Ditto for Facebook. LinkedIn, the social networking tool most associated with business, opened up its API and became more Facebook-like.
 
7. Online media became credible. In a year when print media collapsed, most people finally “got” that online visibility/conversations have gone legit. Meanwhile, the enlightened understand how online and social media is a new paradigm much more impactful than traditional media because of its transparency, authenticity and conversational two-way belief building.
 
6. Blogs ruled but got reeled in. Blogs became the real-time voice of corporations, the best way to communicate and build a human corporate persona. But while they were more widespread, the Federal government cracked down on bloggers in the pocket of vendors, forcing full disclosure for paid-for-booty.

5. Green became greener. While greenwashing didn’t go away in 2009, most corporations understood the mantra of needing to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. They also saw a direct line drawn between sustainability and profitability.

4. Personal corporate branding. Social networking is a one-to-many conversation loaded with self expression. Companies used to be cold and lifeless; now they're increasingly personified by flesh & bones employee personalities who put themselves out there online sharing opinions, interests and agendas. Now, thankfully, stakeholders can build helpful connections that humanize the company/customer connection.

3. Video became an accepted standard in corporate America. The days of writing extensive “case studies” and producing elaborate (and expensive) corporate videos waned in 2009. Thanks to guerilla-style, grassroots video acceptance, corporations increasingly added video to their arsenal of communications thanks to a triumvirate of benefits: believability, immediacy and low-cost. Why write a news release when you can post a three minute video of someone saying it? Would you rather read or watch?  
 
2. PR was re-invigorated. The words “public relations” may still conjure negative imagery, but in 2009, the PR industry began making progress towards a renewed, positive and relevant position. Driven by social media which fosters conversations vs. pitches, the PR industry made significant strides in shifting from a media-centric one-way communications model to a two-way listening model.
 
Social responsibility - #1 top pr, communication, branding trend for 20091. Social responsibility became embedded. In 2009, “making the world a better place” moved from ‘philanthropy’ to an appreciation for and understanding of how authentic, integrated giving-back strategy and action positively impacts business objectives and the bottom line. There’s no turning back and that’s a very good thing.                            

Lessons from Sophie's skiing survey

My daughter Sophie participated in a great program sponsored by SkiNH called “Earn Your Turns.” It’s for 4th-graders in NH who want to earn free tickets and discounts to NH ski resorts with a slight catch - they have to work for it. There are several homework assignments they can choose to earn the ski rewards – make a poster, write an essay, draw a picture. Sophie chose to conduct a survey of friends and family. Her question: Which ski resort in NH is your favorite?
 
While her survey wasn’t scientific, it did result in a high response rate (64 votes from 100+ possible respondents: approx. 65%) and offers some insight you might find useful as you plan your next survey.
 
1.      Consider your target list. Before you hit send on your online survey, consider how the results might be skewed based on the people you are surveying. In our case, Sophie surveyed friends and family, who all gather each winter at Cranmore Mountain in North Conway, so naturally the winning resort was Cranmore (although it should be voted #1 anyway!). Consider widening your target list to include those who have no familiarity with the questions you are asking so the results are more horizontal and less biased.
2.      Offer an incentive. I think we had such a high hit rate because Sophie offered a prize to a random winner picked from all the survey respondents. In this case, Lindt chocolates were up for grabs, but your incentive could be something meaningful to your target list: free product, free support or an all-expenses paid trip to the next user conference. If all else fails, chocolate does work!
3.      Personalize your “ask.” Sophie explained why she was doing the survey and included a picture of herself snowboarding. Many people commented on the project being such a great idea and the graphic offered a peek at how happy she is on the slopes. Consider adding a picture of your CEO, a graph from your last survey, or a video that’s meaningful to the spirit of the survey to give it more “life.”
4.      Say thank you. For each person that responded Sophie sent a personal thank you response along with a reminder about the incentive. “Thank you! If you are lucky, you will get chocolate.” This was appreciated by the respondents, but also opened further one-on-one dialogue. While this can’t be done with thousands of survey participants, consider responding personally to the top 10-15, particularly if they are key customers. Thank them for participating and perhaps get a dialogue going on different issues, or to get some specific anecdotes or data.
5.      Conclude your survey. People who participate in surveys typically do not hear about the results. If they take the time to help you, they should be informed of the outcome. When Sophie’s survey was officially “closed” (we had an end date and time), she sent everyone on the list – even those that didn’t participate – another thank you announcing the winning resort as well as the winner of the chocolate. For privacy reasons, you may not be able to reveal that much information, but closing the loop will let people know you brought the survey to a conclusion and give them another opportunity to engage in further communication with you.
 
In the end, have fun with it. Sophie was so proud of her results she couldn’t wait to share them with her teacher and is anticipating the arrival of her Earn Your Turns rewards.
 
What real-life survey lessons have you learned?

Tired, fading & dead PR words

Lots of companies – especially those in B2B – still talk about (or request) PR services that increasingly strike me as tired, fading or dead.
 
Press tours & press briefings yes, there are still industries where the press tour is alive and well (entertainment!) but most reporters, editors and bloggers don’t have time to meet in person anymore. I always felt bad for them during the height of this practice when an endless stream of PR people with clients in tow stacked-up to get their turn updating glassy-eyed reporters.
 
Hits & clips counting clips (printed editorial coverage) and putting undue weight on offline publicity to measure PR success should have died two decades ago. Ask Katie Paine, one of the leaders in communications measurement. She says “hit” stands for How Idiots Track Success.
 
Press kits, brochures & collateral – in this era of sustainability and green, it’s hard to believe companies are still printing, but some are. Remember the days when major trade show/conference press rooms would be filled with press kits? This practice has largely stopped; it’s a digital world, let’s stop killing trees.
 
Press releases – the function of the news release has shifted so dramatically that in most instances they’re written and issued to primarily serve other stakeholders (customers, investors, prospects, etc.), not the press. The term “press release” is still (marginally) more prevalent than “news release,” (139 million vs. 104 million per Google) but call ‘em by the latter. It’s a more accurate, current and legitimate term.
 
Pitch – this term bugs me more than any other tired/fading/dead PR word because it epitomizes the old-world model of one-way communications. We have two-way conversations, we listen, we seek-out opinions, we build relationships and we tell stories. We shouldn’t “pitch.”
 
Users – this term has been around in the world of tech for decades; “users” referring to people who “use” products. For bizarro reasons I could never fathom, they aren’t called customers or consumers. Time to bury this one.
 
Big bang announcements – there was a time when PR practitioners would communicate with reporters well in advance of actual news being issued. Two or three months before the news broke, corporate spokespersons would inform industry analysts and “long lead time” magazines. Then they’d pre-brief the bi-weeklies, then the weeklies, then the dailies. This is a breathless concept. Blogs break news before most offline news outlets are even aware of it. Other social media (Twitter especially) inform in true real time.
 
Publicity – I’ve never liked this word in the context of defining public relations practice. Are we trying to build trusted reputations and create belief? Or, are we simply trying to get attention (Balloon Boy!)? True public relations is not publicity.
 
Embargos & lead time – PR practitioners used to negotiate up-front agreements with reporters not to run pre-fed news stories until the official date/time of the announcement. Hardly anyone wants to be tied to this practice; it’s still around but is fading fast.
 
What PR words bug you?         

How to create best practices programs

Getting your customers to come to you with their success stories
  
A best practices award program is a contest your company/organization creates, manages and orchestrates to reward customers for outstanding product/service implementations. At the end of the contest, winners are acknowledged, creating positive visibility.
 
In addition to pleasing winning customers – deepening your partnership with them – a best practices program has a very useful residual effect: it gives you high quality references. Because customers want to participate and win, they put in the time and effort to share perspective filled with detail and ROI benefits. This kind of “pull” campaign is a welcome addition to the tedious “push” outreach to seek out and find customer references.
 
How are winners selected?
 
Success is measured using a variety of factors you determine. Some ideas include:
  • innovation;
  • measurable cost savings;
  • productivity gains;
  • process improvements;
  • quality improvements;
  • time savings;
  • unique and innovative applications;
  • anecdotal commentary about value and business impact.
Category creation
 
Best practices programs can recognize and reward multiple customers, not just one. Do this by creating categories of winning entries by:
  • product;
  • vertical market;
  • application type;
  • ROI;
  • geographical or sales region;
  • innovation categories;
  • etc.
What’s in it for the customer?
 
Customers participating in best practices programs not only get an ego boost (because of the acclaim and public recognition), they also win valuable prizes and/or goodwill for not-for-profit causes. Ideas for rewards span from simple and inexpensive to more elaborate, including:
  • philanthropic donation in the customer’s name to the social cause of their choice;
  • dinner with customer and your CEO;
  • social media buzz;
  • all expense-paid trip to your annual user conference;
  • “guest of honor” status at your awards dinner;
  • all expenses paid vacation;
  • tickets to sporting events, concerts, theatre;
  • consumer electronics;
  • product discounts;
  • leased vehicle for one year;
  • etc.
An important note: it’s important to do the right thing for each customer, factoring in ethical considerations, timing, relationship subtleties, politics, economic realities and organizational cultures when assessing prizes and compensation.

How do I do it?

Follow these 10 steps to a successful best practices program:
  1. Create a small team to drive the effort.
  2. Gather to discuss the concept. Create submission and measurement criteria. Brainstorm a catchy program name, categories and awards. Consider existing customer touch-points to launch the program (i.e. user conferences; seminars; webinars; etc.). Discuss the viability of using sponsors. Work in enough lead time to solicit entries and select winners.
  3. Create digital overview creatively describing the program, process, prizes and payoff.
  4. Get it out there 6-9 months – possibly 12 months - in advance of your deadline.
  5. Engage your sales force and other customer-facing employees to send reminders, field questions and encourage customers to participate. Incent your people to deliver customer entries.
  6. Create an area on your Web site to promote the program. Use social media to inform and promote.
  7. Gather submissions; appoint objective judges to evaluate and determine winners. Judges can include past winners (once the program is off the ground); current customers, industry analysts, luminaries, partners and bloggers. Share submissions with the evaluation team.
  8. Select the winners and get the awards in motion.
  9. Announce the winners and prizes at your Best Practices event.
  10. Promote the winners and case studies via social media, your Web site and in other ways.  

How to make technical spokespersons less techy

 

Sometimes it’s hard for companies with complicated stories and technologies to simplify. This happens for several reasons, including culture, ego, myopia and fear. If it’s your job to make techy spokespersons more effective communicators, consider a few of these techniques:  

  • Engineers typically dominate technology company cultures. They often assume everyone is on their intellectual wavelength and can follow along. Help them see the light when communicating with less technical people. Less is more, simple is better.

  • For some folks, it’s a trip knowing subject matter no one else can fathom. Keeping it complicated = self preservation or ego gratification. As the owner of communications within your company, patiently teach them the benefits of taking one for the team and forsaking complexity.

  • Most people want the straight scoop: fast & clean. They don’t have all day. Build bridges of comprehension; analogies and metaphors are helpful.

  • While your executives spend most of their time thinking about their business, others don’t. Enlighten them. Explain why they need to frame discussions, acknowledge the larger ecosystem surrounding their company and take the time to simply explain.

  • Some spokespersons believe speaking simply is a mistake because it will trigger misinterpretation, inaccuracy and sells short a complex, multi-faceted story. Educate them that the objective of communicating isn’t to cross every “t” and dot every “i” in a pattern of boring thoroughness. It's to make certain the person is enlightened, informed and engaged in a way that makes him/her want to share their viewpoints with others … ideally in-person and online.

  • Some people are arrogant and/or impatient. They want to say what they want to say, the way they want to say it. They haven’t read Dale Carnegie’s classic “How to Win Friends & Influence People.” Help them understand why a self-focused approach yields significant missed opportunity.

  • Making complicated topics readily understandable is an art ... an art that thankfully be learned. Here are a few techy examples:
    • Instead of saying, “This new LED is available in a multitude of sizes ranging from a diminutive 280 µm to 350 µm,” say “These new LEDs are smaller than a grain of sand.”
    • Instead of saying, “Implement IEEE 802.15.4 2.4 GHz radio frequency wireless ZigBee sensor networks to enable devices to interface with each other,” say “Easily cast wireless sensory networks around structures like an invisible tactile spider web.”
    • Instead of saying, “A hardware device with an RS 232 command line interface that enables HD video over coaxial cable,” say “A box that lets you broadcast any online content on your high def TV.”

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