The most powerful communication doesn't happen at a microphone

Isn't it curious? There are many, many resources that will teach you to present better. An alien who landed on earth might assume that powerful communication is formal communication. When it really matters, it would seem that one person presented and a group listened until somehow a decision was made or action happened.

This would be a reasonable assumption, but it would be dramatically inaccurate. Most of the communication with power does not occur in presentations. It occurs in the conversations around the edges of presentations. It occurs in less formal, less predictable contexts.

When has someone taught you how to make conversation in a way that protects the integrity of your message while making room for collaboration or negotiation?  It has probably happened, but not a in a classroom or training room. It has happened when a mentor says, "next time, try this."

The truth might be that we research the things for which we can design research studies, and we teach the things we know how to teach. It's not easy to learn to give a great presentation, but the steps for teaching it are relatively well-known and pretty straight-forward. The steps for teaching conversation? They are hard to identify and harder to still to train or teach.

That's why I am piloting new programs on sharing stories. The story's natural habitat is never a podium or a speaker's chair. It's always a circle, a gathering of two or more people where one story leads naturally to another story. Stories are not the way we deliver a message; they are the way we share one so that it can be understood and spread by someone else.

If you want to be a better presenter, take a course in presenting. If you want to be better at having powerful conversations, you'll have to look for opportunities to share stories and notice what works. You won't find this in most storytelling groups, since they are not about telling stories so that change happens (they are usually about performing stories rather than conversations). It's hard to find guides who will show you how to use stories to negotiate, collaborate or motivate.

But it's the best way to improve at the communication that has real power to change your results and to change the world.


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