Current Adelaide time:
          

Fresh News: Laugh your way to persuasive communication

Big Image

Laugh Your Way to Persuasive Communication

by Philip Yaffe

If you can tell a joke well, you already possess many of the skills you need to write a persuasive marketing plan, sales letter, financial report, new product proposal, etc. Equally, you already possess many of the skills you need to prepare persuasive speeches and other types of oral presentations.

Really? Just think about it. A well-constructed joke perfectly fulfills two critical criteria of persuasive communication: clarity and conciseness.

To better understand this, we first need to determine the true meanings of "clarity" and "conciseness". This can best be done by giving them objective definitions, almost like a mathematical formula.


Clarity

To achieve clarity—i.e. to ensure that virtually everyone will understand what you are saying—you must do three things.

1. Emphasize what is of key importance.
2. De-emphasize what is of secondary importance.
3. Eliminate what is of no importance.

In symbols: CL = EDE

To apply the formula, whenever you write you must first decide what really is of key importance, i.e. what are the fundamental ideas you want your audience to take away from your text or discourse?

This is not always easy to do. It is far simpler to say that everything is of key importance, so you put in everything you have. But there is a dictum that warns: If everything is important, then nothing is. In other words, unless you first do the work of defining what you really want your audience to know, they won't do it for you. They will simply get lost in your words and either give up or come out the other end not knowing what it is you were trying to say.

What about the second element of the formula, de-emphasize what is of secondary importance? You don't want key information and ideas to get lost in details. If you clearly emphasize what is of key importance, then whatever is left over is automatically de-emphasized.

Finally, you need to eliminate what is of no importance. Why? Because just as you don't want your key ideas to get lost in details, you certainly don't want them to get lost in elements that have no business being there in the first place.


Conciseness

To achieve conciseness, your text or discourse must be as:

1. Long as necessary
2. Short as possible

In symbols: CO = LS

If you have fulfilled the criteria of "clarity" correctly, you already understand "as long as necessary". It means covering all the ideas of key importance you have identified, and all the ideas of secondary importance needed to support and/or elaborate these key ideas.

Note that nothing is said here about the number of words, because it is irrelevant. If it takes 500 words to be "as long as necessary", then 500 words must be used. If it takes 1500 words, then this is all right too. The important point is that you actually say everything that really needs to be said.

Then what is meant by "as short as possible"? Once again, this has nothing do to with the number of words. It is useless to say at the beginning, "I must not use more than 300 words on this subject", because 500 words may be the minimum necessary.

"As short as possible" means staying as close as you can to the minimum. But not because people prefer short texts and presentations; in the abstract the terms "long" and "short" have no meaning. The important point is, all words beyond the minimum tend to reduce clarity.

We should not be rigid about this. If being "as long as necessary" can be done in 500 words and you use 520, this is probably a question of individual style. It does no harm. However, if you use 650 words, it is almost certain that the message will not be completely clear - and your audience will become bored, confused, or lost.

In sum, conciseness means saying what needs to be said in the minimum number of words.

So how does all of this relate to jokes? If a text or oral presentation fails in its purpose, you often don't know it until a long time later. Feedback is not instantaneous. If you fail with a joke, you know it immediately.

To see how this works in practice, here are two versions of the same joke. Version 1 shows what it would look like by ignoring the formulas for clarity and conciseness; Version 2 shows what it would look like with the formulas properly applied.

But a word of warning. Version 1 may become rather tedious, so if you are inclined to fall asleep while reading it, jump directly to Version 2.


Version 1

Arthur is taking a trip from Dublin to New York. He gets on the plane at Dublin Airport and straps himself into his seat. The plane takes off. About an hour later, the intercom clicks on. A voice is heard saying:

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. The weather across the Atlantic is clear and calm. But I have to report to you that there has been a malfunction in our number 1 engine and for safety reasons I will have to shut it down. However, let me assure you that there is nothing to worry about. This is a superbly designed, superbly engineered aircraft and we can easily fly on three engines. But I will need to reduce our air speed and I estimate that we will be about a 30 minutes late arriving in New York."

After about another hour's flying time, the sound of the intercom is heard again. Once again, it is the captain.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. The weather across the Atlantic is still clear and calm. However, I must report to you a malfunction in our number 2 engine and for safety reasons I will have to shut it down. But once again let me assure you that there is nothing to worry about. This is a superbly designed, superbly engineered aircraft and we can easily fly on two engines. But once again I will have to reduce our air speed and I estimate that we will be about one-and-a-hours late arriving in New York."

About an hour later, it happens again. The intercom clicks on and a voice is heard.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. The weather across the Atlantic remains clear and calm. However, I must report to that we now also have a malfunction in our number 3 engine and for safety reasons I will have to shut it down. But again let me assure you that there is nothing to worry about. This is a superbly designed, superbly engineered aircraft and we can easily fly on one engine. But once again I will have to reduce our air speed and I now estimate that we will now be about three hours late arriving in New York."

At this point, Arthur lets out a groan. "Good grief, I hope the captain doesn't have to shut down that fourth engine. Otherwise, we could be up here all night!"

 

Version 2

A plane takes off from Dublin heading to New York. After about an hour, the intercom clicks on and a voice is heard.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have to report that due to a malfunction we have lost the use of our number 1 engine. But let me assure you that there is nothing to worry about. This is a superbly designed, superbly engineered aircraft. We can easily fly on three engines. However, I will have to reduce speed and I estimate we will be about 30 minutes late arriving in New York."

A bit later the intercom again clicks on.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have to report that we have also lost use of our number 2 engine. But once again, let me assure you that there is nothing to worry about. This is a superbly designed, superbly engineered aircraft and we can easily fly on two engines. However, I will once again have to reduce speed and I now estimate that we will be about one-and-a-half hours late arriving in New York."

Another bit more times goes by. Once again the intercom clicks on.

"Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I have to report that we have now lost use of our number 3 engine. But once again, let me assure you that there is nothing to worry about. This is a superbly designed, superbly engineered aircraft and we can easily fly on one engine. However, I will again have to reduce speed and I estimate that we will now be about three hours late arriving in New York."

At this point, Arthur lets out a groan. "Good grief, I hope we don't lose that fourth engine. Otherwise, we could be up here all night!"

Version 1 contains 406 words, while Version 2 contains only 298. And I think you will agree that the second version is much funnier. Why? Because it fully respects the formulas for clarity and conciseness, as all good jokes do.

Here are two more well-constructed stories. They are not jokes of the "ha-ha" variety, but I am certain they will put a smile on your face.


All about Penguins

A little girl goes into a library and asks the librarian, "Do you have any books about penguins?" The librarian goes to the shelves and gives her four or five books, which she sits down to read. A few minutes later, she comes up to the librarian's desk and returns them. "What's the matter, honey?" the librarian asks. "Don't you like these books about penguins?" "Oh no," the little girl replies. "They're great books! They're wonderful books. But . . . well, they just tell me much more about penguins than I really want to know."


Why Does It Rain?

A little girl (not the same one) asks, "Daddy, why does it rain?" Her father takes her on his knee and explains: "Well, it rains to give water so the grass can grow. And it rains to give water so the flowers can grow. And it rains to give water so the shrubs can grow. And it rains to give water so the trees can grow. Now do you understand why it rains?" "Oh yes, Daddy," she replies. "But . . . why does it rain on the sidewalk?"

 


 

Reports I have written:

Measuring the impact and ROI of social media
Measuring the impact and ROI of social media - for Ark Group
Making social media work for your business
Making Social Media work for your business - for Ark Group
Social Media: the new business communication landscape
Social Media: The New Business Communication Landscape - for Ark Group
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation
How to get started with podcasting in your organisation - for Melcrum Publishing
How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues
Contributing author to How to use social media to solve critical internal communication issues - for Melcrum Publishing

How to use social media to engage employees
Contributing author to How to use social media to engage employees - for Melcrum Publishing

Contributing author to How to communicate with hard-to-reach employees - for Melcrum Publishing

 

 

Have you subscribed to my weekly newsletter yet?

As a subscriber you get kept up-to-date on when new articles are added.

Twitter Mastery for Business - subscribe and it's yours for free!Subscribe now! and receive a free version of my $79 report, Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business.

It's the first in a series of reports I'm writing on how to master the various key elements of social media.

Each report is an-depth, step-by-step process that explains in clear, plain English how to master a particular social media tool and help your business communicate better for better business results.

Each report is easy to read, easy to implement and easy on the pocket -- just $79 per copy.

But as a new subscriber to my blog and newsletter, I'm giving you a copy of the free version of Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business report as a way of saying "thank you" for joining my community.

Please subscribe, then check for the email you will receive from me shortly after, because in the email will be details of how to download the report [1.2mb pdf]

Subscribe now!

Enter your Email


Preview | Powered by FeedBlitz


If you would like to use any of the articles on this site that I have personally written (they will either have 'By Lee Hopkins' on them, or nothing at all) please feel free to do so as long as you include the following 'resource box' text and a link back to www.LeeHopkins.com:

"Lee Hopkins the author of over 130 articles on business communication, and is recognised world-wide as one of Australia's leading experts in online business communication, including Social Media or Web2.0 as it's also known.

To connect with him, please email him at Lee at LeeHopkins.com

Visit his site at www.LeeHopkins.com to find many more articles on business communication. He also blogs at www.LeeHopkins.net. Whilst there, why not pick up a complimentary copy of his 'Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business', which explains all about this latest seismic change to the business communication landscape!"

EzineArticles.com Platinum AuthorCreative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


Finally, if this site or any of the articles have been of any help to you, perhaps you'd like to say 'thank you' by throwing a few pennies my way. If so, please click on the button below and donate whatever you feel is appropriate. The payment is handled by PayPal and is extremely secure. Thanks.

 

 

 

Follow me on TwitterFollow me on FacebookFollow me on LinkedInFollow me on YouTubeFollow me on Google+

Subscribe

Subscribe to my newsletter now and be the envy of world presidents

Subscribe to my weekly business communication newsletter and receive a FREE version of my highly-regarded report, 'Master the Art and Science of Twitter for Business' (that sells for $79)
Find out more...

 

Related material :

Twitter

Better Business Writing course

A 12-step plan to take you from Twitter newbie to Twitter supremo and grow your business in the process.

More details

 

Better Business Writing

Better Business Writing course

You’ve probably always wanted to improve your writing skills in your workplace, but perhaps there wasn't a training course around to help you.

Well, now there is.

More details

Turn Guesstimates into Estimates & close more sales!

Award-winning ProposalKit gives your clients the detailed price quote and proposal they need so YOU close more sales (and boost your bottom line!) Finally you can quote with accuracy, increasing your profitability and professionalism. ProposalKit is easy, customizable, proven, and downloadable now! http://www.proposalkit.com

Social Media White Paper
(3rd Edition)

Social Media book for free

Trevor Cook and I wrote a booklet to help our clients and friends come to grips with this new online phenomenon called 'Social Media' or 'Web2.0'. Now in its third edition, it is still being widely cited and is receiving lots of favourable comments.

Download your free copy now (pdf)

Find out more about it (opens new window)

Vodburner rocks!
Vodburner is my tool of choice for recording skype video calls, either for later podcasting or simply for my own record. Now that video is becoming more and more important, I can't imagine online life without it.
More about Vodburner...

Find out what email marketing can do for your business [opens in new browser window].

What you say about Lee Hopkins:
 

"One of the best days I've spent with a man! "


"As a speaker, Lee and his alter ego in the guise of avatar 'Lee Laperriere' played a key role in making our virtual event in Second Life a success. Lee was well-researched, engaging and enthusiastic about the possibilities that virtual collaboration brings and his presentation showed that he had really thought about the needs of our audience"


"Wow - what a presentation, it went so well, thank you very much! Fantastic job! "


"Lindy and Lee, you were both brilliant and I'm very thankful and pleased for your efforts, it was excellent. Thank you. "


"One of Australia's leading public relations practitioners in the so-called new media"


"While I only had the pleasure of actually meeting Lee face-to-face several months ago, I have been aware of him in conference programs and through feedback from one of my team members for a while. Lee has an amazing and unique skill for managing the new media to support business outcomes"


"Oz's best social network strategist"


"As for Local Royalty, you really are a Superstar among the bloggers and blogosphere!"


"Lee Hopkins, one of Australia's most respected social media experts"


"Lee was very entertaining and knowledgeable. He demystified social media for me and he made me feel it IS possible."


"His enthusiasm is infectious - exciting stuff!"


"Excellent. A really fascinating insight from an engaging speaker."


"A very difficult topic but it was explained in a fantastically simple way."


"The Walkleys relies on the good will of Australia’s talented communicators to make events like these happen and I can’t thank you enough for taking time out from your heavy schedule to make the convention such a memorable event."


"The workshop was very useful in that it enabled us to directly relate what we learnt in the seminar to our business. Lee was very easy to relate to and he presented all the information in a way that was simple to understand."


"Informative and engaging - gave good overview of new on-line technologies and how they can be applied to businesses. Particularly valued the opportunity to have a separate session to look at the specific needs and potential uses for my own business."


"Great to talk to someone who is expert in their field and passionate."


"The ability to interact one on one with Lee, as well as seeing new technologies and how they can be easily implemented into current business processes [was great]"


"Great. Lee was very engaging and presented info in easy to understand language and examples. Use of music, video, PowerPoint etc keep contents fun and educational. Great stuff!"


“Great! Even I could understand and appreciate the content. Excellent examples, wonderful presentation. I’m going back to share with my team. Thank you. "


“Lee was a great facilitator and his energy and passion for social media was evident."

“Excellent, enthusiastic presenter who is right into what he is talking about. Walking the talk. Just the right amount of info about the different topics. Not too geeky. Strong emphasis on how the tools can assist effective business communication. Relaxed friendly atmosphere. The workshop opened lots of doors, stimulating. I’m strongly encouraged to try things out. Many thanks.”


“Lee was great – knowledgeable, enthusiastic, generous in sharing his expertise. I liked the demonstrations."


"Great Workshop... helped me crystalise my thoughts on social media and now I feel ready to develop the strategy and make use of this great new medium"


Would you like me to run a workshop in-house for YOUR company?

Contact me to discuss how we can bring your company into this new and exciting communication universe.

View many of the presentations I have given over at Slideshare

View leehopkins's profile on slideshare

Why does employee communication matter?

Why does employee communication matter?

Download a presentation I gave to a group of PR students on slideshare

For your consideration:

 

Your special audio report on VOIP is here!

Free VOIP report

 

 

 

 


 
Your special audio report on website design is here!

Free Website design report

 

 

 



"I communicate therefore I am"
CommsCafe mug
Available in medium and large mug sizes. You KNOW you want one!

 

 

CommsCafe mug

Available in men's and women's fittings. You KNOW you want one!


Writing for a web audience

Netwriting Masters CourseWant to write more powerfully for a web audience?...
Right-click on this image and download the pdf file to your computer's hard drive.
"The definitive guide to writing for the web"
says Lee