blog Nov 15, 2021

I am writing this blog to point out some key parallel points between business communication and a recently watched documentary.

I enjoy watching documentaries. When done well, any topic interests me. Zac Efron is a well-known actor, performer, and celebrity. I enjoyed his work most when he played opposite Huge Jackman in the movie, The Greatest Showman. He has, in the ballpark, 50 million followers on Instagram and has recently produced and starred in a Netflix series, Down To Earth, with his Wellness expert and friend, Darin Olien.

The hook that got me to get this documentary a shot was when I heard Zac say (paraphrase) "I have all these followers, and I'm in a unique position to make a positive impact". To that end, in this documentary, Down To Earth, Zac and Darin tour the world, looking for new perspectives on very old problems in the area of food, water and energy, wildlife, long life, and more. 

However, what got me hooked to watch the entire series was a different thing - Zac is not an expert in these areas, and Darin is, to an extent. However, with no ego, their desire to learn is something special. I understand they are both vegans; however, there was no "vegan arrogance" or righteousness, and they were happily introduced to foods, not vegan. They were highly comfortable with themselves, not a strong need to "perform" and be ON, but a strong need to learn and ask questions. They welcomed "lightbulb" moments at every opportunity. They made sure the "lightbulb" moments were simple and emotionally impacting. They did not try to over-intellectualize it. They kept it "real." 

Over the years of training business professionals, some of the common traps are an attitude that "my material is dry" or an attitude towards the audience "they know more than I do about this topic." More common is when a speaker believes that their message automatically connects to their audience just because they are stating the information. Other traps include missing relationship opportunities due to the inability to "read the room," overloading on information not found interesting to your audience, and the list continues. As a result, consciously or not, these communication traps limit relationship growth, leadership, and credibility. One example from this list is when one of my clients, an engineer in the utility industry, approached me. "I have to lead a discussion next week. I've been involved in my area of expertise for five years; however, I'm the freshman in the room. Everyone at this meeting is my senior and knows more than I do". Due to his insecurities, this was how he saw this issue when his lead in this discussion had nothing to do with his tenure but rather his point of view regarding the topic. 

The following are six takeaways from this comparison I'd like to mention briefly: 

First, if you want your audience to be comfortable with you and your message, you must be comfortable with yourself. Second, if you want your audience to be interested in your subject, you have to find something exciting about your subject, regardless of how many years or times, you've been talking about it. Third, if you want your audience to be unguarded, then be unguarded when presenting to them. Fourth, If you want your audience to trust you, be trustworthy. Five, if you want your audience to stay engaged, you must be engaged with them. Finally, if you are interested in attracting egos that don't get in the way of your relationship with them, don't put your ego in the way when speaking to them.

To learn more about communication traps and solutions for the business professional, join us at our next webinar on Oct 22 at 1 PM est.


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