Friday, July 29, 2016

The weekend read

Oh, my Lord & Taylor, it's Friday, communicators. No need to shop around for ways to get smarter by Monday. Just check out my finds of the week, shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here for you, like finds from a personal shopper:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by jenny.nash712)

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The unintended metaphor and its consequences

Speakers have a tendency to assume the worst about audiences. They think their listeners aren't really listening or won't pay attention, or will find them boring. But in my experience, people don't put themselves in seats before you if they don't expect to get something from you: Insight, new perspective, encouragement, and most of all, meaning. Public speaking may be the most visible indicator of humans' quest for making sense of the world around us, and audiences have meaning in their sights, even if they don't realize it.

So it was no surprise to me that many observers, seeing Donald Trump give a speech on trade in fromt of what looked like a giant wall of trash, rushed to label it a metaphor.  Some did that with a heavy dose of irony, some in utter innocent effort to make sense of the odd visual. But meaning--the thing at which metaphor excels--was being sought.

The reality was a tad more pedestrian, and typical of a campaign stop: Given at a company that compacts aluminum cans into cubes for recycling, the speech had a backdrop of the company's product. But that pretty much got lost in the commentary on Twitter and traditional media. Election cycles aside, it's a great example of how a metaphor can backfire--particularly when you weren't reaching for one in the first place. That's one reason you should test metaphors (and test for inadvertent metaphors) before you mount any event, campaign, or announcement.

It's events just like this one that we'll be discussing in Edinburgh in October at my workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor, a pre-conference session at the Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference. We'll be talking about metaphoric wins and disasters, with lessons for you to heed and great ideas to steal when you're crafting your next speech. The day-long workshop will cover much more, expanding your understanding of metaphor, and you are encouraged to bring with you an existing speech that lacks metaphor to see how using metaphor would change it. We'll be meeting in the stunning setting of the Scottish Parliament, and there's a reception and tour of that space immediately following the workshop.

Registration will continue until the conference sells out but our best discount ends August 1, so you know what to do. Register at the links above or below, for either the workshop or the workshop and conference, which is my favorite gathering of communicators. I look forward to hearing your examples of metaphoric disasters there!

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.

Friday, July 22, 2016

The weekend read

Let the troubles of the work week melt like a popsicle in the sun, communicators. It's Friday, time for you to focus on the flavors of the week I shared via @dontgetcaught on Twitter and curated here, on a stick, for you:
(Creative Commons licensed photo by Wade Brooks)

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

New workshop in Austria: "Be an Expert on Working with Experts"

"Be an Expert on Working with Experts" has long been among my most popular workshops for communications pros here in America. Now I'm bringing it to Europe in October, and I hope you or your colleagues in Europe will be able to join me.

Set for October 17, the workshop will take place at the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Laxenburg, Austria, just outside Vienna. Its headquarters are in the Schloss (castle) Laxenburg seen at left and in the video below--a stunning setting for the work we will be doing.

"Be an Expert on Working with Experts" focuses on helping communications professionals better understand how to work effectively with experts they are putting in front of public and media audiences. Communicators who work with experts in science, engineering, technology, as well as those who work with subject-matter experts of all kinds, will find this workshop useful. The one-day session will teach you:
  • How to anticipate experts' default communications style, how to help them see it, and how to show them what public and media audiences want instead;
  • Why they don't need to "dumb down" their information to communicate clearly, and how to handle other common objections they raise;
  • How to assess your experts' skills and training needs, to help you approach coaching in savvy ways; 
  • Handling hands-on feedback to smart people, pushback and Q&A when you're training experts. Find out what they don't know--but won't tell you--and how to fix that.
I've spent most of my career working with every kind of scientist, medical professional, and engineer, as well as law and public policy experts, and this workshop lets me share my insights with you. This is the workshop I wish I'd had earlier in my career!

Registration is open now, and you can find all the details here. Registration is $400US or 360EUR per person, and many communications pros bring their teams, so they can continue to share insights after the workshop. We've had every level of communications pro, from newbies to vice presidents attend this workshop and find it useful.

Here's what two American participants had to say after attending this workshop:
"I found her instruction clear and insightful, her tips useful and her presentation style engaging. If you're looking for help as you try to get the best out of the people who speak on behalf of your organization, Denise can offer you practical guidance that you'll be able to put into practice immediately. I particularly appreciated her empahsis on understanding a speaker's needs and motivations in order to help them deliver the best possible presentation." -- Rachel Coker, director of research advancement, Binghamton University
"If you ever have the opportunity to take a workshop with @dontgetcaught, do it! Best training I've ever had. Informative and eye-opening." -- Ashley Berthelot, director of research communications, Louisiana State University
I hope you can join us on October 17 in Austria. Please share the details of this workshop with interested colleagues. Registration is limited to 18 people, so please register early--seats are already filling. I look forward to seeing you there!


(Creative Commons licensed photo by Andreas Steinkogler)

Join me in Edinburgh, Scotland, on October 20 for a new workshop, Add Meaning with Metaphor: Improve your Speeches with the Most Powerful Figure of Speech. It's a pre-conference workshop at the Edinburgh Speechwriters and Business Communicators Conference, designed to help both speakers and speechwriters use this powerful tool. You can register here for just the workshop, the conference, or both, and you'll get the best discount if you sign up by August 1.