Sheer Poetry: Composing Text, Email & Social Posts for Epic Effect

Social Media Marketing Flat Illustration

Have you ever gotten an electronic message and wondered when the author was going to get to the point? It hurts, doesn’t it?

It’s not that they were trying to waste your dwindling time with turgid prose reminiscent of Longfellow’s epic Song of Hiawatha. It’s just that you simply couldn’t fit their rambling stanzas about “the shores of Gitche Gumee” into your Twitter-constricted schedule.

Let’s talk about how you can avoid becoming a text statistic, like your friend or colleague here.

In our world of shrinking sound bytes, this shortage of attention means it’s more essential than ever to get to the point quickly. This doesn’t mean communication is becoming superficial. Far from it. It’s just more dense.

Is Brevity Beautiful or Banal?

In many ways, e-messages and social media present a new abbreviated form of communication so full of layered meaning, it’s almost poetic. The Japanese form of poetry known as the haiku has been lauded, jeered at, sneered at and ultimately left alone by Western society. Or has it?

I’ll bet if you look closely, you’ll find that this 3-line, 17-syllable poetic format is the close cousin to many of the news bytes and electronic messages you read today.

For example, see if this 3-line poem looks familiar…

Meeting is at ten

Bring me coffee and donuts

See you with bells on

Not an office jockey? Perhaps you might recognize this 17-syllable take on world news that could easily appear in a Yahoo feed…

Pod lands on comet

Rosetta makes history

Film at eleven

If you’re at all athletic, you might relate to this well-deserved gloat, inspired by the thrill of victory…

Smoked the tennis match

They said it couldn’t be done

Look out, Federer

I offer these examples to make a point. As silly as it may seem to compare daily drivel with a great and noble poetic art form, the aim is the same. Capture attention with compelling brevity, and communicate worlds of meaning in as brief a space as possible.

Wooing the Elusive Attention Span

Obviously your own messages don’t have to rhyme or be limited to three lines to be effective. However brevity is the soul of wit. You can win over your audience by respecting their tight schedules and their often harried frame of mind.

Borrowing the acronym AIDA from the world of Sales, here is a technique you can adopt to make your written messages matter and move your readers to epic action.

  • A)ttention: To open, ask a question or make a statement that introduces your topic. Eg: “Is eating dinner important to you?”
  • I)nterest: Present the meat of the message, and state clearly why you’re initiating the contact. Eg: “I thought I might sport you to a meal tomorrow night.”
  • D)esire: Back up your message with relevant information so your audience can delve deeper if they desire. Cite sources and give links whenever it makes sense to do so. Eg: “This reviewer suggests linguine:”
  • A)ction: Summarize the reason for your contact, and use a call to action if there’s a specific result you’d like to see. Eg: “Let’s mix things up a bit this week and have some fun. Ping me back with your reply, and I’ll make reservations.”

Following this formula can take you from zero to hero in 17 syllables or less. Coincidentally, this is also just about 140 characters, or the limit of half the world’s attention these days. I’m sure you get the point.

Like A Song On the Radio, Make Your Words Unforgettable

Pretty woman mouth blowing hand drawn icons and symbols close upYour tone of voice can have a greater impact on your powers of persuasion than the words you use. There’s no doubt that your voice is a powerful instrument.

But what are you doing to control it? There are distinct methods to make your message as haunting or as catchy as a song on the radio so that people are singing your praises.

Think of a really memorable talk or presentation you attended recently – one that moved you or changed the way you view the world.

What was it that stayed with you? Was it the speaker’s words, or was it the tone of voice that moved you? The odds are high that the speaker’s passion came through – broke through the barriers of your mind so the words could captivate your heart.

Maybe you felt it in the quiver of their voice as they told an emotional story. Perhaps it was a sudden change in their volume – a whisper or a shout that rattled you in your boots.

You might have been influenced by their tone of voice when they asked a thought-provoking key question. Perhaps it was the sheer pace of the words – staccato as a machine gun – that tumbled out of a mouth straining to keep up with inspiration.

The fact that you’re thinking about it now is a testament to the power of the human voice.

How To Become Impossible To Forget

All of these elements tap the rich array of the capabilities of the voice, making it possible to influence others and communicate with passion.

It’s the sad truth that too many discussions, speeches and presentations are easy to forget. We certainly want what we say to be remembered, especially when the project’s success and completion depend on it. And that’s a problem because the reason anyone would want to talk with you or listen to you is to engage in memorable, meaningful communication. One of the most potent yet often overlooked facets of vocal communication is the instrument itself – the voice.

Whether you’re addressing an audience of one or one thousand, you’re engaged in public speaking each time you open your mouth to speak in a public place.

So how are you coming across? When you speak, are people reminded of the dulcet tones of a rippling brook… or are they shrinking, as if from the shrill sound of fingernails slowly raked across a blackboard?

No matter where you find yourself today, as a novice or a master, you can learn to use your voice for a more lasting effect and become unforgettable.

Speaking of Dynamics…

The dynamics of your message will come through much more clearly when you color your message with a range of volume, tone and rhythm that conveys your emotional intensity. Your voice and intonation make all the difference in how you come across.

There are three basic elements that you can tap to ensure your verbal messages are understood – and remembered – time and again.


Before you can communicate effectively, it’s essential that you really connect what you want to say, who you’re talking to, and why they might want to listen. Match the purpose of your words with your volume.

The human voice has a dramatic dynamic range, from the intensity of a whisper to the full, rich command of a shout. If your voice is too soft, you risk coming across as mousy. Too loud, and your audience will tune out. Make sure your message is fully heard so that people catch the full meaning of the important words you want to convey.


Adjust your vocal quality to match your audience. Support your tone with a breath that stems from deep in your body cavity. Relax your tongue and throat, and allow your words to flow from a mouth that seems to savor them.

Your vocal quality or timbre, the way you articulate, and the rise and fall of your voice all contribute to your tone. Like the melody line of a song, you’re composing and singing your message all day long.


Who are you speaking to? How much time do they have? How long is their attention span? What are their interests, beliefs and values? What do they share in common with others? How are they unique?

Each of these factors will influence the rhythm of your speech.

If you’ve been asked to give a eulogy at a good friend’s funeral, by all means, take your time. The dearly departed has probably earned it. There’s no shortcut here, and the members of the congregation are sure to appreciate the display of respect demonstrated in your slow, measured speech, savoring every last detail you painstakingly convey in your somber pace.

Slow thoughtful speech is the hallmark of a eulogy. If that’s your venue, take your time. Otherwise, cut to the chase.

Brevity is the soul of wisdom, and the rhythm of your speech has the power to convey a world of urgency or a casual note of nonchalance. Match your pace to the audience before you.

What do you want your audience to do as a result of your communication? What’s really at the heart of your message? By effectively using your voice in a measured, deliberate way, you can pack a powerful punch that drives your message home.

Communication is at the heart of all relationships and business dealings. Whether you’re connecting with an audience of one or a thousand, your experience can be a rich and rewarding one. Using your voice to full effect will mean the all the difference in creating a lasting impression.

Looking for additional skills for communicating effectively? Want to be a “master communicator” and the one people really listen too? Looking to become one of the top PMP’s in your area?

Join us at the #NewNormSummit event, January 9th, 2015. One day event, limited seating. 10 Category A PDUs plus a 10 PDUs course. 20 PDUs total.

Click here to learn more and register.

Decoding Body Language

Body Lamguage

Decoding Body Language: What You’re Secretly Communicating About Your Leadership

What are you saying with your body language?

Like it or not, your non-verbal communication speaks louder than your words.  Many times, it’s not exactly what you intended to say.  If your team is headed in the wrong direction, you might want to step back, decode your body language and decipher what you are really telling them.

Imagine a time before the spoken word, thousands of years ago when cavemen relied on gestures and eye contact for communication. At that time, it was prudent to speak out loud only when necessary to avoid scaring away big game or attracting deadly enemies. It’s hard to imagine now that language and syntax were concepts barely in their infancy. With populations so sparse, body language was the common speech.

During those times, a simple gesture or puffing out of the chest to the clan leader at the wrong time in the wrong way could have someone in hot water or ostracized from the tribe. Meanwhile, averting the eyes at just the right moment might win over an attractive member of the opposite sex.

Here we are today in modern times dealing with the same classic issues with body language and communication. What do you think would happen if you stood up in the middle of a meeting and puffed out your chest to the division manager? Worse yet, what might happen if you turned your back when someone on your team was talking with you?Sending the right message with your non-verbals is keenly important. Your voice inflection is part of that message, but it’s not the total package.What does your body language say? Does it say you’re confident, smart, and enthusiastic—or just the opposite?

If you want to learn how to decode your body language and lead your teams more effectively, consider these practical tips below. As an added bonus, they might just help you advance your career.


The eyes truly are the windows to the soul. Be sure you’re making eye contact with those you’re having a conversation with. Glancing around the room, looking past someone or simply phasing out all indicate that you’re just not engaged in the conversation.

If you’re leading a meeting, eye contact with your audience is even more important. Keep your eyes focused on those you’re speaking with, and you’re half-way home to winning their trust.


Your posture conveys a number of factors to the people you’re with, including how you feel about your topic and even your energy level. If you’re slouched, resting your chin on your hands or crossing your legs, you’re conveying a casual attitude. This can be a big benefit in certain situations, but be careful. It can also imply carelessness.

Standing solidly on two feet conveys strength and energy. With your weight distributed on the balls of your feet, you’re ready to move. Square shoulders and chin up display confidence and self-respect.

The great thing about displaying good posture is that, even when you’re not feeling confident and interested, adopting this body language will help you feel brighter and more energetic immediately.

Arms & Hands:

When your hands are open, you’re ready to receive. With your arms outstretched or at your sides, you’re in a neutral or even a welcoming position.
Folding your arms across your chest is a great way to keep warm. After all, you’re covering your vital organs, including your heart. But it also could convey a closed attitude. Be careful how you use this gesture.


You may be surprised to learn that your feet are talking as much as your hands are, telling the story of your interest in the conversation. If you’re looking at someone but your feet are pointed toward the door, guess which way you sub-consciously want to move.

Crossing your ankles or legs indicates a casual stance or even a feeling a comfort. You’re certainly not about to go anywhere in that posture. But here again, be clear about what you want to convey. This can be great for bridging the gap, but it also could be inappropriate in formal settings. Understand what’s standing under you.


Everyone has a comfort zone, that personal space they’ll let you into. If you come closer than arm’s length, you’re likely to incite strong feelings – either of romance or anger. When you’re talking with someone, don’t encroach into their personal zone unless you’re absolutely sure you’re invited.

Using these tips for non-verbal communication may not win you any public speaking awards. On the other hand, they’ll help you keep your feet on the ground where they belong – and out of your mouth!

How To Speak with Anyone: 3 Tips for Getting Your Point Across Clearly

Does it take a PhD or English major to communicate effectively? Absolutely not! All you need is a willingness to build rapport and a few simple techniques for relating to people in their own style. Once you learn to translate your words into their language, getting people to share your point of view is a breeze.

If you want to project your vision, help others hear your message, and move them to take action, keep reading.

Who is the most effective conversationalist you know? What makes them stand-out in the crowd?

Public figures like Cicero, Napoleon Bonaparte, Winston Churchill and Ronald Reagan live on today because of their verbal prowess. They knew how to move nations with their ideas.

In communicating your ideas in a conversation, have you given thought to the structure you use to get your ideas to stick?

Can you imagine what it would be like to be the most persuasive project manager in your organization? Odds are if you are that person, you’ve put some work into your conversational skills.

If you want to become a skilled conversationalist, here are some practical tips, whether you want to advance your career or simply connect with others more effectively.

1. Adapt Your Style

If you want to get through to people, it helps to meet them on their own turf. For your message to be welcome, you need to sound like one of their tribe. You need to get their attention – the right kind of attention.

Sometimes it makes sense to stand-out in a crowd. The most effective communicators often work hard at blending-in to the environment.

If you want to ask a question, make a statement, or verbally compel someone to act, the first thing you want to do is blend-in. You need to seem familiar, like someone your listener would want to know.

So what’s the easiest way to do that? You can make yourself blend into their world by subtly matching the way they dwell in it – literally mirroring their moves, matching their vocal pitch and volume, adapting yourself to their style of speech. When you reflect what they’re comfortable with, they’re more likely to be comfortable with you.

Have you ever felt annoyed when someone parades into your office and they’re just a little too happy? Have your meetings been derailed by someone talking a bit too loud, interrupting the flow of the meeting and your concentration?

These people are getting your attention but in all the wrong ways. You might think of them as inconsiderate, maybe even rude. Whatever they have to say is lost on you.

Tailor your tone and style to blend with your listener’s, and you’re sure to stack the deck in your favor.

2. Match Your Speech

Countless studies have shown that people interpret the world around them according to their dominant senses. Some people call it your primary learning style. What you’ll discover in becoming an effective conversationalist is that people will reflect their primary learning style in their speech.

The way a person relates to their world is a called their Representational System: visual, auditory, or kinesthetic – sight, sound or sense. If it seems like you and that certain person are speaking a different language, maybe it’s because you really are!

Here are 3 common situations for understanding how to adapt your style of communication:

1. Sight: Is there someone who just doesn’t SEE eye to eye with you, no matter how plain your message may be?

2. Sound: Is there someone who just can’t HEAR you, even when you think you’re coming in loud and clear?

3. Sense: Is there someone who just won’t FEEL anything except the bone they have to pick with you?

Each of these situations is actually the same kind of problem wearing a different disguise.

If you’re not getting your point across clearly, successful communication may be a simple matter of matching your speech to their Representational System.

If they don’t SEE your point, help them visualize it a little more clearly. If they can’t HEAR your message, explain in words they can understand. If they won’t FEEL anything but the bone they have to pick with you, help them resolve the issues and connect the dots.

3. Ask Pointed Questions

In getting your ideas across verbally, don’t underestimate the power of asking pointed questions. The more deeply you understand your listener or conversation partner, the more relevant your discussions can be. Determine they’re style, get on their turf and use the momentum of the dialogue to communicate what’s on your mind.

You don’t have to be a PhD, English major or even a great orator to get your point across clearly. It just takes a few simple techniques to get the other person to listen, see your point, and move into action. Now that you know how, who will you move into action with your ideas.

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