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I had to ask the question. There are so many books on communicating & presenting affectively, it begs the question, what can this book do that others haven’t?
While it’s a fair question, I don’t necessarily think it stands with peers. That said it’s a new book, with a new tone, preaching many of the best advice and doing it with a flair. If you’ve read a ton of communication books, you may not find something new, but if the topic is one you’re just digging into, Pietrucha is a great place to start.
1. Jobs vs Gates – inspired presentations
If you’ve ever seen these two companies CEO’s do new product demos, you’ll immediately get it. You don’t have to be an apple fanboy to appreciate how Jobs presents without buzzwords, and cuts to the heart of our hearts.
That means don’t get mired in jargon, speak to our passions, and be your own ambassador.
2. Lead with a story & a question
In a recent discussion with a prospect I was asked about one experience that stood out over the years of consulting.
One popped into my head of a dot-com startup in the late 90’s. The company was trying to close an acquisition deal, but the web application was sick & feverish. My first few days involved conversations with lead engineers, DBA & operations team members. As I turn over more stones, I found a key component, the database, misconfigured. I sifted through configurations, and found the setup lacking. The server was using only 5% of memory. Some of the settings were even still at their default. Changing the right ones allowed the machine to flex it’s muscles like a marathon runner taken off a starvation diet. Things improved very quickly, and the site returned to a snappy responsive self.
The CEO beamed with approval, and just a few weeks later the firm was purchased for over 80 million dollars. Not bad work if you can get it.
3. Drop the vernacular & speak broadly
After recently doing some writing for muckrack on how to reach pitch journalists and then at Infoworld getting started with Amazon EC2. I’ve learned a ton. Having a professional editor explain what they want really puts things in perspective.
Editors will start by talking about their audience. If you’re a blogger, do you know who your audience is, and what they really get from your site? There may be many answers. Once you get your audience, how can you speak to all of them? In my case, I have readers who are programmers & devops, then I have CEO’s & VCs. But it doesn’t stop there. What about recruiters, and hiring managers? How about random internet searchers, and students?
All of these folks can get something from my site, and using broad language allows everyone to be within reach. Don’t sacrifice depth, but use language and stories to make your point.
Check this: 5 ways startups misstep on scalability
4. Analogies that resonate
I attend a lot of mini conferences, meetups, drinkups & social events in nyc. I find it’s one of the keys to success in consulting.
In an endless sea of conversations, you will find yourself talking about what your day-to-day business is all about. In my early years in nyc, these conversations would consist of technically correct descriptions, followed by glazed eyes, and a quick change of subject. After this happens often enough you start to wonder, how can I share such a technical description to a broader audience?
Truth is it’s only technical because you know so much about it. If I stand back I might say I’m “a sort of specialized surgeon for the internet”, or “a traffic cop of sorts, for the information highway we all share”, or better yet “a plumber, that you call when your pipes are backed up and your customers are screaming”.
Whichever analogy I use, I see eyes light up, and a look of understanding. “Oh I can see how that would be an important specialization”. Indeed.
The right analogy makes all the difference!
5. Put your words on the chopping block
If you haven’t already done so, start chopping. Sentences & paragraphs all benefit from shortening & edit. Distill your big ideas in summary and let the story lend the detail. Your audience will pay closer attention, and see the big picture you are trying to share.
The guys at 37 signals do this eloquently in RE:Work .
Read this: Is Amazon RDS hard to manage?