Words Matter #8: Maximize your conversational influence

September 20, 2017

Words Matter #1 (14)

They occur daily in hallways, breakrooms, between cubicles, across conference tables…and yes, in bathrooms.

Impromptu conversations.

These short exchanges are powerful opportunities to influence. Used effectively, they can be the perfect time to inspire others toward productive and meaningful action.

As spontaneous as these interactions may be, that’s no reason to be unprepared.

Amplify your impact:

  1. Know your audience: Be a student of your listeners. People care about what’s important to them. Pay attention. Discover how your message can connect with them personally.
  1. People act emotionally and justify logically: This is critical. Influence inspires action. What you say must cause them to feel something and it must make sense.
  1. Be different: Anyone can say they’re different. It’s your responsibility to demonstrate it. Apply these two concepts:
    • Be simple and clear.
    • Communicate with power. Drop your verbal safety nets and resist starting sentences with: I think…I believe…I hope…
  1. Invite them in: “I’m a good conversationalist, I love to talk.” No. You’re not a good conversationalist. You love to talk. A good conversationalist loves to listen. Use questions that invite dialogue and create understanding like: How does that sound to you? Tell me your thoughts. What else should we consider?


Practice this tool and you’ll transform informal conversations into influential conversations.

Words Matter: Maximize your conversational influence


Click to check out other topics in the Words Matter series:

Words Matter #1: Communicate with Power

Words Matter #2: Three dead-weight words to leave behind

Words Matter #3: It’s not about you

Words Matter #4: Don’t contaminate the conversation

Words Matter #5: What’s love got to do with it?

Words Matter #6: Aim to impact; not impress

Words Matter #7: Face your truth

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What props are you hiding behind?

September 13, 2017

What props are you hiding behind-

PowerPoint. Projects. Products.

The perfect hiding places.

We allow these things to take center stage while communicating with our audience.

It can feel safe to shrink in their shadow.

Problem is, these things are support material; you are the main event.

When it comes to connecting with your audience; the most elaborate graph, intricate spreadsheet, or cutting-edge concept can’t compete with you.

Your audience (whether it’s one or one-hundred) wants to experience a human connection. They want to know that you get it, and more importantly, that you get them. Presentation props can’t give them what your authenticity can.

Come out from behind the slide deck, strategy, and your innovation. Inhabit the space, look your audience in the eye, and step into the void stuff can’t fill.

You are the presentation.




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Never take this advice:

September 7, 2017

Never take this advice-

“You’re the best, don’t ever change.”

Really? Don’t ever change?

Yearbook flattery is dangerous advice.

I cringe to think what my life would look like if I had taken this misguided affirmation to heart.

Our willingness to learn, grow, and yes, change, is the best gift we can offer ourselves and the people around us.

Ironically, we end up fearing and resisting change. Sometimes at great costs.

In the years since high school, have you: Changed for the better? Improved your health? Become more compassionate? Added new skills? Tested your comfort zone? Grown emotionally? Started caring less about what people think of you and more about what you can offer this world?

If not, that’s what today is for.

The best encouragement we can give each other is simply this:

“Keep changing.”

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Dance with your audience; not for them

August 30, 2017

Dance your audience; (1)

Communication is a dance.

It feels so natural until someone is watching.

When is the last time you wondered what to do with your hands during a conversation with a friend? So how come you have no idea what to do with the darn things during a presentation to colleagues?

When eyes are on you, you’re in your head instead of in the moment.

That’s when things get off beat.

It’s tempting to choreograph your communication and rehearse your every word…your every move.

Here’s the problem:

Turning a presentation into a performance only adds to the pressure.

Instead of dancing for your audience, dance with them.

Invite them in.

Ask questions. Seek their perspective. Honor their voice.

If you want your presentation to feel natural; be natural.

When it’s a shared experience…the rhythm is a lot easier to find.

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Misery has a mascot

August 23, 2017

Misery has a mascot (2)

7 out of 10 employees are moderately to fully disengaged.

Our workweek mascot puts the data on display.

Wednesday isn’t just any day. Wednesday is hump day.

The half-way point of the workweek struggle.

Monday and Tuesday mark the uphill battle. Wednesday restores hope that the weekend is within sight. Thursday and Friday are utilized to bully time into moving faster.

Have you ever looked forward to reaching Wednesday on a vacation week?

A workweek celebration becomes a vacation-week crisis as a twinge of panic accompanies the thought: “How is time going by so fast?! SLOW DOWN!”

If working for the weekend is the cadence of your career, you are wishing away 71% of your life.

Think back to when you first started pursuing your purpose.

Of all the dreams you had, you probably never dreamt that Sunday night could fill you with so much anxiety.

You deserve work that is meaningful.

You deserve work that is challenging.

You deserve work that is inspiring.

Life is too short to have your workweek feel too long.


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Words Matter #7: Face your truth

August 17, 2017

Words Matter #7 Face Your Truth

The words written on your face are more telling than the ones that come out of your mouth.

People feel skeptical when what they hear does not align with what they see.

Words are easier to tame than the emotions lurking behind them.

  • Enthusiastic words can’t disguise boredom
  • Concerned words can’t disguise apathy
  • Polite words can’t disguise contempt

Pay attention to what you say today. Have the courage to ask:

“Where are my emotions at odds with my words?”

Words Matter: Face your truth.


Click to check out other topics in the Words Matter series:

Words Matter #1: Communicate with Power

Words Matter #2: Three dead-weight words to leave behind

Words Matter #3: It’s not about you

Words Matter #4: Don’t contaminate the conversation

Words Matter #5: What’s love got to do with it?

Words Matter #6: Aim to impact; not impress

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Directions can’t replace desire

August 10, 2017

directions can't replace desire

No one changes from a workshop.

Executive coaching, self-help gurus, webinars, and personal development books won’t do the trick either.

These people and processes aren’t “the answer”, they’re guides along your journey.

Transformational growth is fueled by the reason you take the journey: desire.

When the desire to become the person you were born to be grows stronger than any fear or excuse…growth is inevitable.

Desire inspires your choices, your choices drive your actions, and your actions pave the path you travel.

Before mapping out where you want to go…ask why you want to go.

Directions don’t determine destination; desire does.

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Don’t “Do it like this”

August 2, 2017


Growth is an innate human desire.

When we don’t know how to get to where we want to go, it’s tempting to listen to the infomercial-esque solution to our problems:

“Do it like this! It’s fun, easy, and only takes minutes a day!”

It’s an illusion.

We’re not designed to follow one-size-fits-all advice that glamorizes and oversimplifies the task at hand.

Resist the temptation to copy the steps of someone else’s path.

Be an active participant in your self-discovery and don’t limit yourself to the supposed “right” way.

Chart your own course.

Take an inspiring detour.

Give yourself permission to get lost…

Walk your own road.

It’s the journey that changes you; not the destination.


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Reprogram your stress reflex

July 25, 2017

Reprogram your stress reflex

Two of the most common survival techniques when dealing with stress are fight or…

Hey, where did you go?

Over time, this ingrained stress reflex takes its toll on our physical, psychological, and emotional well-being.

Stressors can’t hurt us; our response to them is what causes the damage.

Our goal isn’t to avoid or eradicate stress, it’s to change our relationship with it.

It’s about self-management, not stress-management.

As Shawn Achor says in his TED Talk, the most effective way to have a healthy relationship with stress is to see it as a challenge rather than a threat.

Even when a situation can’t be changed, our mindset can.

Think of a stressor in your life:

  • How could you envision it as a challenge rather than a threat?
  • How might you adjust your response when it happens next time?
  • What preemptive action would help reduce the frequency of its occurrence?

Don’t aim to be stress-free, aim to be free from a stressed response.

It’s the difference between surviving the day-to-day, and thriving in it.

Ready to make the shift?





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Enough with the elevator pitch

July 18, 2017

Enough with the elevator pitch.

The elevator pitch.

Quick! Explain your business as fast as you can before the other person loses interest.

Here’s the problem: It resembles a one-sided dodge ball game. One person hurling information. The other…bombarded…mentally huddled in the corner.

Transform the elevator pitch into elevator catch.

The first step?

Give the ball away.

Instead of throwing information out there, seek insight with questions like:

  • Tell me about what you do.
  • How did you get into that line of work?
  • What do you like most about it?
  • What challenges are you currently facing?

After acquiring perspective, discuss your business in a way that’s relevant to them.

Set yourself apart by breaking the pattern. Stop telling. Start learning.

A shared dialogue is more memorable than a lonesome monologue.

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