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Sep 19, 2018

Someone asking you to talk about yourself can be intimidating, but storytelling can help you out. Realize that what people are really asking for when they ask you to talk about yourself are the patterns of who you are. Finding those patterns comes down to a simple phrase: what’s true for you is what you do.

 

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Sep 12, 2018

The challenge of giving and receiving feedback is to get people to move past the negative. The problem is that our brains can’t just stop doing something without replacing it with something else. Telling someone (or yourself) that something is wrong doesn’t tell them what to do instead. The trick for feedback is to pair the positives with positive actions they (or you) can take. A system called +EBI can help, which stands for “Positive (+), Even Better If.”

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Sep 5, 2018

Shyness and stage fright are part of our flight or fight response, but how can we overcome them? The first step is to know that it’s normal. The other thing to realize is that delivery is the least important part of getting your message across. Your audience will give you the benefit of doubt if they care about what you’re talking about. We look at the three questions an audience asks itself.

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Aug 29, 2018

Ideas need to grow up to meet their potential, to do that you need to understand the idea lifecycle. Knowing where you are in the idea lifecycle helps you get your idea where you need to go next.

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Aug 15, 2018

The best topic for you is at the intersection of 4 things, and the concept of Ikigai can help. To figure this out for yourself, you can do an “Idea Ikigai” exercise with four sheets of paper.

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Aug 8, 2018

We’re renaming a piece of the Red Thread because the truth is it isn’t working like it should. It can be easy to get mixed up between the idea behind your message or pitch and the Idea Statement that comprises a part of its Red Thread.

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Aug 1, 2018

The narrower your focus with your message, the broader your reach with your target audience. If that sounds counterintuitive to you, you’re not alone. However, this is often referred to as the universal paradox of messaging. The most effective messages feel like they were made just for you.

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Jul 25, 2018

There are 3 beliefs that your audience needs to have in order to make a change. First, that it’s possible to achieve the goal they want with the change you’re recommending. Second, that it’s possible for them. And third, they need to believe that it’s worth it.

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Jul 18, 2018

When you’re trying to clarify and simplify your big idea, the word “only” is extremely important. You need to make sure your audience gets only what they need in order to act. To do that, focus on the action that you’re looking for.

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Jul 11, 2018

Effective technical communication is tricky because we suffer from the “Curse of Knowledge.” We don’t remember what it’s like to be unfamiliar with all the jargon in our industry. It’s difficult to imagine what it’s like to not know something that we know. As a result, we end up focusing on what we want people to know instead of on what they need to hear in order to understand what we want them to know.

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Jul 4, 2018

To get an to audience make a change in a short presentation you need to know where they already are. Instead of focusing so much on the time slot, we need to focus on the amount of change that is possible in our audience, given the time slot.

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Jun 27, 2018

Making a great keynote presentation is about showmanship, but not quite in the way you might think. Yes, you need to engage the audience and be inspiring, but you also need to show them that you’ve answered three questions: Is this possible? Is this possible for me? And, is it worth it? The Red Thread gives you the tools to make that happen.

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Jun 20, 2018

Just because we understand something doesn’t mean that we’ll actually do it, which is a problem if we’re trying to get someone to make a change or take an action. That means we need to design our messages to accomplish a specific mental outcome: we need to be specific about what we mean by “understanding.” To help us, we can use the model of Bloom’s taxonomy.

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Jun 13, 2018

Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks have very different audiences but, as big brands, they have something in common: constancy. Their entire experience revolves around where their Red Thread and their audience’s Red Thread align. Both deliver coffee, but you’d never mistake one for the other because their customers have different Goals.

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Jun 6, 2018

Anytime you’re pitching your idea, there’s one clear hurdle you need to get over in order to succeed: someone else needs to find your idea irresistible. The thing they’re looking for when they listen to you is information, but it’s a certain kind of information that will actually win them over: they’re looking for a Curiosity Gap.

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May 30, 2018

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Metaphors are powerful because they take one concept and marry it to another one to help someone understand something. They’re a way to create an instantly-shared view of the world. To capture big ideas, you need something big enough to capture both the idea itself and all the subconcepts associated with it, a “meta-metaphor.”

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May 23, 2018

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“Start with Why” is pretty common advice, but it’s hard to follow. It wasn’t until Tamsen had a conversation with Nilofer Merchant that things shifted into place for her. She said, “change doesn’t happen until we understand the context in which it happens.” In other words, our Why is contextual. The good news is that that’s what the Red Thread is all about: making visible the invisible context for your idea and the change that you’re trying to create.

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May 16, 2018

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Why do we still buy diamonds for engagement and wedding rings? Because we want to give or receive a symbol of the commitment that we’re making and, of course, “A Diamond Is Forever.” Behind this simple tagline is a powerful Red Thread complete with a Goal, a Problem, an Idea, a Change, and an Action.

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May 9, 2018

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The conventional wisdom with regards to negotiations is to “argue interests, rather than positions.” The problem is that interests are often so fraught with moral obligations and deep-set beliefs about the other side that we need to go one step further. We need to think about the principles that create these interests.

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May 2, 2018

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Our idea of what people need to make a change is really different from what information they actually need, and the difference is the distinction between curiosity and knowledge. We want people to be asking questions because curiosity is how the audience moves themselves along the Red Thread.

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Apr 25, 2018

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We use the word "story" a lot, but we often mean something else: narrative. A narrative has a lot of things that stories have, like characters and motivations, but the difference is that it isn’t over. It has a hoped-for end, but it’s evolving, and there are any number of individual stories that support it.

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Apr 18, 2018

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We talk a lot about telling stories with our messages, but a common mistake is to tell a story that’s already over. Nonprofits have been talking about stories for a long time because they’re a great way to get potential donors to understand the impact of a gift. However, when Tamsen worked in the nonprofit sector, she noticed that some stories were more effective than others.

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Apr 11, 2018

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Have you ever watched a detective movie and felt like you were just about to put it together right when the detective solves it? How do we get our audience to have that feeling when they’re listening to our message? The thing to realize is that, just like a great detective novel, there are several roles we can play in delivering a message.

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Apr 4, 2018

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We need to reach many different people, but we have only one message. Gretchen Rubin, happiness and habit expert, explains in her book, The Four Tendencies, that there are multiple categories for how we deal with expectations, but she also found that no matter what their actions and reactions were always values-driven.

The core of the Red Thread is all about values: Ideas. We can also keep in mind the tendencies of our audience, specifically the difference between internal and external expectations. We need to explain, for those that care about external expectations, why our Goal makes sense for most people. However, for the contrarians, we also need to show the other side. Building a message that appeals to both groups will make sure that you reach everyone.

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Mar 28, 2018

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When Tamsen first started training for the Boston Marathon, she ended up injuring herself because she was new to running. To train safely, she discovered the Universal Running Cadence of 180 steps per minute, which is the speed the body needs to move to move in its most efficient manner. To keep time, Tamsen created a playlist of tracks that all were at 180 beats per minute: everything from David Bowie to Beyonce to the Beastie Boys.

Putting messages together can often feel like a highly inefficient process, and it can feel like your message isn’t that different from what’s already out there. When you think about the universally true things about how your audience decides to act, lean on the Red Thread to appeal to those universal needs of Goal, Problem, Idea, Change, and Actions. At the same time, keep in mind that, just like all the artists on that playlist, your unique perspective is going to make the universal individual.

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