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Creative Career Path

The Art of Making Sense2010.04.07

    The Tower of Babel is a metaphor for the collapse of communication between people separated by different languages and cultures. A clash in communication styles can happen just as easily between people who speak the same language and work in the same company, as with people from the outside.


    In business you often do not get to choose the people you work with. Managers inherit teams that were originally hired by someone else. People are assigned to work they may not have otherwise chosen. As companies merge and cultures clash, the quality of communication can be a company’s greatest asset or liability.


    The market is flooded with programs promising to convert your staff into masters of communication. While this is a worthy goal, the focus of many training programs is on how to improve only a limited skill set, such as delivering PowerPoint presentations.


    There is a trend in presentation training to recommend a charismatic style of communication, often modeled on the success of popular American speakers or entertainers. If this isn’t your style, it may feel like a forced laugh. Enthusiasm can certainly provide the fuel, but without a vehicle to carry you, you will not travel far. Neither will logic alone.


    A question often raised by people doing technical, science, or business presentations is, why bother to use images or metaphors? Why not just get straight to the point?


    Your presentation might be logically organized and thoroughly explained, but will it be understood by the audience? The assumption is that if you understand and explain something, then it will automatically be understood by the other person. This is not always the case. People listen for different reasons, and frequently filter out that which is not relevant to their interests.


    A second common assumption is that if people understand your message, they will easily remember it. How much of what you learned in school can you accurately recall today?


    Edgar Dale described a Cone of Learning, in which we remember 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear, 30% of what we see, 50% of what we hear and see, 70% of what we say, and 90% of what we say and do. To see the cone graphically, visit


    To this I would add that we remember 100% of what we feel. This means that if a person doesn’t like or agree with what you say, they may remember that feeling far more than what you said. Moreover, if they feel bored or ignored, that may be enough for them to shut out your message altogether.


    People have different preferences in the way they process information. These preferences serve like channels to select and receive some things with high fidelity, and to shut out other things altogether.

    Flexible communicators are open minded, because they can switch between channels to broadcast or receive in multiple modalities. The primary channels are visual, auditory, kinesthetic, logical, and energetic.


    If you spend all of your time focusing on only one or two channels, you will lose anyone who is currently tuning into the other channels.


    But if you want to be a world class communicator, it is not enough to simply address all of the channels. If you want your message to be worthy of attention, your material must be relevant, engaging, and useful, and include a call to action.


    Communication occurs at different levels. The level on which you communicate determines whether or not your message will move people.


    It must be understood. Be sure to communicate clearly to each of the five channels.

    It must be memorable. Anchor your messages with metaphor, emotion, and story.

    It must be remarkable. That means worth remarking on, worth talking about. Viral.

    It must be motivating. Your message will go farther if it inspires action.


    If you address these elements consistently and authentically, you will be one step closer to becoming a world class communicator.


    World Class Speaking is not just a talent, it is a process worth learning. To find out how, visit




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    Article Writer

    William Reed

    William Reed is a renowned author-speaker who coaches physical finesse and flexible focus for a creative career path. A certified Master Trainer in Guerrilla Marketing and 7th-dan in Aikido, he combines practical wisdom of East and West to help you learn personal branding at the Entrepreneurs Creative Edge.

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