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The UpSkill Community recently had a fireside chat with Colleen Stewart, who discussed the importance of storytelling to branding.
Colleen, the founder of Perfect Pitch Consulting, is now an effective storyteller. However, she remembers a moment where a prospective customer fell asleep during one of her presentations. That experience is what led her to her current role.
When we try to sell a product or idea, we are essentially creating a story for it. As part of our storytelling we must also read the non-verbal cues of our audience to know when our story is engaging them or losing them.
Please go to UpSkillCommunity.com to review show notes and join a community of leaders devoted to UpSkilling.
I had the pleasure of hosting a fireside chat at UpSkill community with special guest Colleen Stewart on the topic of stories and storytelling. In this episode, I’m going to share as Colleen introduces herself. And I especially want you to listen to the story. That she introduces at the beginning of our conversation. I’m going to come back to the story that Colleen is sharing here in subsequent episodes. But today, I want to use this story to highlight the importance of non-verbal feedback in the communication process.
Welcome to upSkill Talks brought to you by McGraw Hill. I’m your host, Michel Shah lead UpSkiller at UpSkill Community. UpSkill Talks is a podcast for leaders, leaders who are actively seeking innovative and creative ways to interact lead themselves and others. In every episode, through real life stories and enlightening conversations, we will explore the challenge. And opportunities real leaders face in today’s ever-changing workplace. We will present you with real strategies for you to leverage your soft skills and produce transformative results. Thank you for joining me on this journey. Let us begin.
I’m Colleen Stewart. I founded Perfect Pitch in 2012, I graduated from journalism school and then I frankly, didn’t want a job and I avoided work for as long as humanly possible. I went traveling around the world and eventually I had to get a job and I got a job as a sales rep with a publishing company. And early on in that, job, I was delivering a sales presentation to a group of 10 to 15 prospective customers. It was a group of instructors in Calgary. And it was a big deal in my territory to get this particular deal. And so a manager had flown out from Toronto to help me out with this presentation. Well, about 15 minutes into the presentation, I heard this horrible sound from the back of the room. And when I turned away from my slide deck, I realized a gentleman at the back who really wasn’t sitting that far away from me, had fallen asleep. His head was back, his mouth was hanging open, and he was snoring, quietly, but loud enough that everybody knew exactly what was happening. There was definitely a cost to that poor presentation. I did not get the business that day. And I walked out of there determined this is not going to happen to me again. I better figure out what makes for a great presentation.
George Bernard Shaw said the single biggest problem with communication. Is the illusion that it has taken place. We get caught up sometimes in thinking that the moment we say something, the moment we send a message, the moment we transmit the information in whatever format. That, that component, the delivery of the information. That that constitutes our job. Our job here is over our job was to deliver it. And now it’s over to the other person to ensure that they have received it. Our responsibility in communication, we sometimes believe is limited to the delivery of the message. But communication is a process, not a product. It’s also not one sided. It’s transactional. You are interacting with others who are part of this process with you? And communication. Is complex has always been complex and is becoming more and more complex It’s dynamic it’s fluid. And so it requires ongoing engagement and attentiveness, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for all of us to stay on top of the changing communication demands. If you imagine yourself as a delivery company. When you send a package out. Your responsibility is not done. You also have to ensure that there were no interruptions along the way. And that the package is received by the recipient. That’s when communication happens. It happens, not just in terms of sending the message, but that the receiver has confirmed receipt of what we’ve communicated. So feedback then whether it’s verbal. Or a nonverbal is part of the communication cycle. It is actually the final step in most communication processes.
A key component of the communication process is that we confirm that the communication we intended was received as intended. Or was not received. And therefore we have an opportunity to modify or to update in order that what we intend is what is received. This is crucial to effective communication. And some of that feedback will be verbal, but a lot of it will be non-verbal. Whether it’s a yawn snoring looking away.
There’s so many different forms of nonverbal communication that can give us clues to how our messages landed. And so what Colleen’s story demonstrates so eloquently? Is that delivering that message? There is no guarantee the message. Is being received. And Colleen as the communicator has a responsibility, not only to deliver her message, but to notice. To pay attention. To her audience. To see their level of receptiveness, to her message. Are they receiving it to notice interference noise? The snoring. The distractions. And that is what we’re after. When we’re talking about nonverbal feedback. This nonverbal feedback. In Coleen’s case may be augmented by survey responses or other one-on-one conversations or any other mechanism that the receivers have to share. How the presentation she delivered, landed with them. But Colleen, as the presenter is able to notice that the presentation is fallen flat on the audience, someone has fallen asleep. We need to be aware that not everything we communicate is landing the way we communicate it or the way we intended. That’s the non-verbal feedback. That’s so essential because it’s not all the time that people are comfortable to tell you exactly how your message is landing. This nonverbal feedback is truly important in today’s world. Because people are becoming more afraid of telling you. The truth. Sometimes in the previous episode I talked about. The concept of protective hesitation, you can go back to that episode to listen to how that impacts your ability to get real, authentic feedback from others.
So to broaden our frame. To gather more information, we need to be able to pay attention. To non-verbal feedback as well. But. When we exchange information. We have to use a common system and that system doesn’t just include language. It includes signs and symbols and other behaviors. And sometimes in a multicultural increasingly diverse world. We are in many cases, communicating without a common system. And it’s important for us to know when we’re not using the same system for communicating. And nonverbal feedback gives us a clue. For instance, many years ago, I did a sales presentation. And this was a very high stakes presentation for our organization. And they sent me out because I had a reputation of being able to close these deals. The audience were the top two executives of the other organization. Throughout the presentation. One of them was not in their heads up and down in the way that I am accustomed to confirming what a presenter is saying. I agree in. The other person was shaking their head side to side. In a way that I understood to mean, no, I’m not with you. I’m not following you. You’re not landing with me. And the more I tried to clarify, the more I paid attention, I couldn’t get that person who signal. I had interpreted that he was not going along with me. I couldn’t get him to change it to what I interpreted as a yes. And so I stopped focusing on that person because it was really making me feel uncomfortable, like my presentation wasn’t landing. So I thought maybe a better place is just to focus on the person who was giving me the signal that made me feel like we were on the same page. At the end of the presentation, I was so excited. And when I asked for the clothes. That was the first time I learned that the person I had totally ignored was actually signaling. Yes. That person was actually coming along. With me on the presentation, following the journey and agreeing with me and would have been closer to a close. Had I not totally ignored him. And he felt undermined by that. I was focused on the person who signal. I felt. I was indicating a yes. But that person was not in agreement with me. His signal. Meant the opposite. We were not using a common system of communication. That cost to me the deal. And our organization really struggled to meet targets for the quarter, because this was a really high stakes deal.
What I learned from that was that we cannot assume that we’re communicating with a common system in a diverse world that we need to make sure. And we need to be clarifying the systems for communication. So that when we are receiving none verbal communication, we’re taking time to clarify that the feedback we are receiving is the one that’s also intended. And so our responsibility does not end with passing the information on and ensuring that someone is confirming receipt. We have to take a further step based on the context that we’re in. To clarify that what we have received as feedback is also what was intended. And so this transactional nature makes this process an ongoing dialogue that we have to continue to engage in. If we want to be effective communicators. Because communication is so critical. To our success. Both personally and professionally. And each of us. Beers, uh, communication risk. And so this investment is very crucial for ensuring we are communicating with a common non-verbal system. We already sometimes have issues just with the language translations. That’s the verbal system. But the nonverbal system can be even much more complex, but it is an important component of clarifying. And communicated. So remember. In the last episode, we talked about verbal feedback. In this episode, we’re talking about none verbal feedback. Again, Whether it’s verbal or non-verbal, there is a process involved. It’s transactional. It requires an ongoing dialogue.
Thank you for listening to this episode of UpSkill Talks brought to you by McGraw Hill. We bring you new episodes every Monday. Please take a moment to subscribe, leave a five-star rating and a written review at apple podcast. Or follow us on. By Google podcast or wherever you listen to your favourite podcasts, don’t forget to share UpSkill talks with other leaders like yourself. So they too may gain the skills and insights to produce amazing results. Please go to UpSkillCommunity.com to review show notes and learn how you can join a community of leaders from across the globe. Collaborating to lead in a more meaningful and impactful way. I’m your host, Michel Shah. And again, thank you for joining me on this episode of UpSkill Talks.
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