I’m fascinated by those workouts that you see advertised on TV or the Internet. I recently came across the “Caveman Workout” where you run through the woods in bare feet and eat raw meat. Then, there’s that kickboxing workout called Tae Bo. And I actually borrowed the P90X CDs from my brother. But I gave up after about 20 minutes because I became extremely tired.
All of these workouts promise you a new body and a new life.
Well I have created a workout that won’t give you a new body. But it will provide you a new life. And with the extra money you’ll earn as an accomplished communicator, you can hire a personal trainer to help you get the new body.
It’s called the “Communication Skills Workout.” In just 10 weeks, it will change your life and your career.
Weeks 1-2: Build Strong Eye Contact. If you’re not making strong eye contact, you’re not connecting with your listeners well enough. I worked with the head of a large engineering organization who had impressive experience designing and building oil wells. But her poor eye contact made her seem uncertain. Holding eye contact was an easy fix.
Daily Practice: Hold eye contact without looking away. For extra credit, act fascinated during every conversation.
Weeks 2-4: Eliminate “filler words.” I had a Georgia Tech student last semester that used “um” in every sentence. Like most people who rely on filler words, he needed to become hyperaware of the “ums.” We had him give a presentation where everyone in the class raised their hands on every “um.” He began pausing rather than letting “um” escape his lips.
Daily Practice: Speak slowly and pause every time you feel a filler word coming. Ask a colleague to signal you every time she hears your “ums.”
Weeks 4-6: Simplify messages with three points. Leonardo daVinci said, “Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.” Simple three-point messages make you sound sophisticated. “So tell me Joey, why should we support your new project?” When you can come back with a crisp “There are three reasons,” you build credibility.
Daily Practice: Prepare three points before every meeting and conference call.
Weeks 6-8: Give short answers. Short answers are more persuasive than long answers. Let’s say that someone asks, “How much will the project cost?” A bad answer will give a long rambling overview of costs and never come to a conclusion. A good answer hits the point in two or three sentences. “Our estimate is $20 million. The key is whether we can get the steel at the cost we expect. We’ll know that within the first week of the project.”
Daily Practice: Restrict all answers to three sentences or less.
Weeks 8-10: Practice stories that support your messages. People love stories and the best communicators use lots of them. If you’re trying to show the value of complying with trade secret precautions, tell a story about how failing to protect trade secrets proved costly in the past.
Daily practice: Develop one story every day in support of a business message.
So there’s the “Communication Skills Workout.” Ten weeks to a new life.
Joey Asher has worked with thousands of business people helping them learn how to communicate in a way that connects with clients. His new book 15 Minutes Including Q&A: a Plan to Save the World from Lousy Presentations” is available now. He is also the author three previous books including “How to Win a Pitch: The Five Fundamentals That Will Distinguish You from the Competition”, “Selling and Communication Skills for Lawyers” and “Even A Geek Can Speak.”