I just finished reading Talk Less, Say More by Connie Dieken. It’s full of great tips on how to relate to your audience in order to connect with them and ultimately to compel them to act. This book is highly applicable to product management. You’ll learn how to better pitch your concepts, your products, and your company to internal audiences, potential customers, and potential partners.
The book is very engaging and easy to read. But don’t let the simplicity fool you. It’s packed full of great ideas to make you a better communicator that gets results.
The premise of the book is that to be a successful communicator, you need to learn three habits:
You have to connect with your audience, so you can convey your message and convince them to act.
Recurring themes throughout the book are that “less is more,” you have to be “likeable,” and three is “the world’s most powerful number.” These simple ideas will take you a long way when applied properly. This book will show you how to do that and more.
Synopsis and Comments
Habit 1: Connecting – give your audience what they want and value up front so they’ll tune in. There are 3 strategies, each with multiple tactics provided to help you connect.
- Strategy 1: Stay In Their Moment – Be Fully Present
- Strategy 2: Frontload – First Things First
- Strategy 3: Goldilocks Candor – The Right Level of Candor Is Crucial to Stay Connected
A large part of this section deals with how to reach and work with difficult people. It’s full of tips that will prove very useful in product management as you try to sell your ideas internally and to get your projects implemented.
There are also great tips on how to read your audience and adjust your presentation accordingly which is very useful in business development.
My favorite tip – you have to know your recipient’s preferred method of communication (PMOC). Use their PMOC, instead of yours, and you’ll increase your chances of getting a response. If you don’t know their PMOC, just ask. Then put it in their contact file and always use this method as your default means of communicating with them. This is especially useful in business development.
Habit 2: Conveying – manage information by using portion control to get your point across with clarity. The chapter starts off with 10 signs you might be a weak conveyor and tips on how to address the problem. Next up are the 3 strategies, each with multiple tactics provided to help you convey.
- Strategy 1: The Eyes Trump the Ears – Use the Dominant Sense
- Strategy 2: Talk in Triplets – Tap into the Trilogy
- Strategy 3: Tell Stories – Gain Longer Shelf Life
A great visual example of strategy 1 is the contrast used in before and after pictures by weight-loss companie.
Strategy 2 is another of my favorite tips – the concept of triplets. The brain is wired to think in 3s. Examples include:
- “Stop, drop, and roll”
- “Stop, look, and listen”
- “The truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth”
- “Hop, skip, and a jump”
- “Blah, blah, blah”
- “Yada, yada, yada”
- And my own addition: “see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil” from the three wise monkeys.
Things just flow better in 3s. Try it.
One of the tactics for using triplets is to “preload three choices.” Start with the most important item first, the second most important item last, and the third most important item in the middle.
Alliteration is also recommended when telling stories – think Dr. Seuss.
Telling stories is the hardest thing for me to do. But the author gives some nice tips. If you can tell a story about how your product can solve a problem, show some visual examples, rattle off the benefits in triplets, and use some alliteration, then you should have a very powerful and memorable value proposition.
Habit 3: Convincing – use to create commitment and influence decisions, actions, and results. The chapter starts off with 10 signs you might be a weak convincer and tips on how to address the problem. It then follows with the 3 strategies, along with their tactics for helping you to convince your audience:
- Strategy 1: Sound Decisive – Stop Babbling and Backpedaling
- Strategy 2: Transfer Ownership – Create Commitment, Not Compliance
- Strategy 3: Adjust Your Energy – Start Attracting, Stop Repelling
Product Managers and Business Development Managers need to be able to convince their audience in order to sell their products and get the deal done. This chapter helps you to put it all together to do just that.
Strategy 1 – You have to sound decisive. “If you sound like a wimp, you’ll be treated like one.” The author provides 9 signs that you might have a problem.
Here are some things not to say:
- “I’m not an expert, but…”
- “I could be wrong, but…”
- “I guess what I’m saying is…”
- “I kind of feel like…”
- “I’m only an assistant, but…”
- “I’m probably the only person who feels this way, but…”
For those of you that sit on your hands and bite your lips in meetings, “it’s crucial to contribute to meetings if you want to convince others to see your viewpoints and act on them.”
Bottom Line: If you ramble, waffle, or never speak up, no one is going to take you seriously.
Strategy 2 is a biggie – transferring ownership.
Transferring ownership means shifting your ideas and decisions to others so they will embrace them and act on them.
It’s the difference between others feeling actively involved in their destiny and, therefore, committed to it versus feeling forced to comply. Buy-in leads people to change behaviors, decisions, and actions…
People should feel as if they’re volunteering, not surrendering.
The lesson here is that you shouldn’t shove your ideas down everyone’s throats. Ask for opinions. Find a way to use some of those opinions. Share credit.
Strategy 3 is the hardest one for me to get a handle on. It focuses on your voice, your face, and your body language. Most people don’t pay enough attention to how these things influence people’s opinion of you.
This section is full of great tips. Here are my favorites:
- Record yourself to see how you sound. Likewise, video yourself to see how you look (watch it with the sound off).
- Use shorter sentences.
- Emphasize action verbs.
- Use pauses for emphasis.
- Don’t suck in your stomach. Breathe deeply from the diaphragm. This will help to calm you down and make your voice sound lower.
- Maintain eye contact, but try looking at just one eye and then switch to the other eye.
- Keep your lower body still.
- Use the power stance – “When standing, keep your feet about shoulder-width apart. Soften the knees a tad. This is the best position for the lower body to come across as relaxed but powerful.” Shift your weight from one hip to the other to mix it up a bit.
Remember: connect, convey, convice.
I’ve only scratched the surface of all the great stuff that’s in this book. I highly recommend it to anyone in product management looking for an edge to better sell your ideas, your products, or your proposals.
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