Andrea’s top 3 communication insights after 100 episodes of the Talk About Talk podcast. These are the under-rated insights that Andrea encourages us to focus on, regardless of your profession or seniority. 1.) Keep it short. 2.) It’s not about you. 3.) Adopt a growth mindset.
Andrea’s Top 3 Insights
1. Keep It Short
- People have short attention spans. So keep it short, and keep it focused.
- We are cognitively overloaded! We are overwhelmed with information and decisions.
- Brevity shows respect for your audience. Time is a valuable resource.
2. It’s Not About You
- We’re wired to focus on ourselves. We’re inherently self-interest-seeking.
- Focus on your audience. Be other-directed. Be generous. Be empathetic. Be a good listener.
- Research shows that when you talk less and the other person talks more, they will like you more. When you’re in a job interview, the more you can get the interviewer to talk, the more likely you are to get the job.
- When you’re networking, it’s not about getting something. It’s not even about reciprocity. It’s about being generous.
- Being other-focused can boost your confidence. Instead of focusing on yourself and how you’re feeling, focus on the audience!
3. Adopt a Growth Mindset
- Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck distinguishes between a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset.
- If you have a growth mindset, you’re curious. You improve. You’re more comfortable with risks. You’re ok with being wrong. You invest in self-improvement. You LEARN.
- If you have a fixed mindset, you perceive yourself to have fixed skills, attributes and abilities. You’re less likely to invest in yourself. You’re defensive. You’re focused on self-verification.
- Benefits of a growth mindset: increased motivation; lower stress, anxiety and depression, better relationships and improved performance.
- Andrea’s growth mindset mantra: “I know what I know and I’m keen to learn more.”
- Adopting a growth mindset will keep you relevant, it will boost your confidence (yet prevent you from being arrogant), and it will make you a more effective leader.
- One of the easiest ways to adopt a growth mindset? Use the word LEARN as much as you can.
(See what I did there? Kept it short!)
3 Big Thank Yous:
- Brian Campbell – audio & video producer at Content Consortium
- Andre Carneiro – digital marketer and Google Ads consultant at The Agency
- Sharon Mah-Gin – executive recruiter at Executive Search Alliance
Dr. Andrea Wojnicki & Talk About Talk
Greetings and welcome to talk about talk episode number 100. Yah. 100!
Episode 100! This is it. I mean, it’s not over. But this is a big deal. This is episode #100. That’s a big number. Kind of surreal for me, to be honest. I’m surprised, grateful, proud and excited all at the same time.
For a few months now, people have been asking how I’ll commemorate the 100th, the centennial episode. I considered doing a top ten list. Maybe the top ten episodes or top ten learnings. But a top ten can drag on. AM I right? SO – surprise, surprise, I’m going with the power of 3. If you listen to Talk About Talk or if you subscribe to the email newsletter, you know I talk about the power of 3 a lot. I advocate that you leverage the power of 3 and I will do the same.
Looking back at 100 episodes. All of the research. All of the interviews, all of the learning. If I can narrow it down to three key communication insights that have meant the most to me, and that I hope will help you, then that’s what I gotta do.
These 3 key Insights 3 meta themes if you will, actually came pretty easy for me. These are communication skills that I think can help anyone, no matter what stage in their career they’re at, no matter what they do. Personally and professionally, these three insights can help you.
Before we get into that, though. I just want to say a few things to commemorate this 100th episode. Don’t worry. It’s not going to be a trip down memory lane. I’ll be brief. I’ll keep it succinct. But let me just say, we’ve come a long way. When I first launched the talk about talk podcast in December 2018, we were focused on communication skills IN GENERAL Did you ever hear the trailer for the podcast? Well here it is!
Pretty cool, if I do say so. But I want to point out that the podcast has evolved a LOT since then, when we talked about communication skills IN GENERAL, versus now, we’re laser focus on communication skills for ambitious executives. I also want to point out that my talented brother, sound production engineer Brian Campbell, created this trailer and in fact he has done almost all of the sound production since then. So I want to say THANK YOU Brian. Whenever you hear fun sound effects or music? That’s Brian. And beyond his technical audio expertise, he’s also been incredibly supportive. And offered me great advice. And yeah, sometimes a sibling shot in the arm or kick in the ass when I needed it. Thank you, Brian.
There are 2 other people that I want to briefly thank before we get into the 3 key communication insights. Of course I have to narrow it down to three people. The power of three right? So in addition to my brother Brian, I also want to thank Andre Carneiro. About 2 yrs, I was in a monthly zoom meeting that I attend with podcasters from all over the world. We share ideas and advice with each other. At this meeting, Andre asked if anyone could help him rebrand his podcast. Given my background in mktg, I put my hand up and we set up a separate zoom call. I had no idea who Andre was, but I figured I can help him with branding. I quickly learned that Andre lives in Brazil, and he teaches at a university there and has a successful analytics & google ads agency, aptly called THE AGENCY. Analytics and google ads are something I know very little about. We’ve met almost every week since and helped each other with our businesses. Honestly, I’ve learned at least as much from him. So thank you Andre!
The 3rd person I want to thank is my friend Sharon, an incredibly generous, and not surprisingly successful executive recruiter who’s played a big role in helping me build my business. You can hear some of Sharon’s advice in episodes #45 and #67, focused on Networking. We’re also planning a 3rd episode coming up soon, focused on mistakes made by that job seekers.
In addition to Brian, Andre and Sharon, there are so many others who have encouraged and supported me along the way. I am so so grateful for your feedback, your support, your downloads and your referrals. Thank you. I cant say that enough. I’m truly grateful.
I have to say, since we released that podcast trailer in December 2018, Talk About Talk has covered many many communication topics, and I’ve had the privilege of interviewing medical doctors, actors and comedians, tech experts, CEOs, entrepreneurs, bestselling authors, opera singers, grief counselors, leading edge professors, and on and on.
Over time, we’ve shifted from communication skills in general to being laser focused on communication skills for ambitious executives. As we’ve become more focused, monthly downloads have increased despite switching from releasing episodes on a weekly basis to bi-weekly – every second week.
I attribute this growth, this success to many things, including our focus on communication skills and specifically for executives, to my genuine interest in the topic and my sincere desire to help executives. I’m truly honoured to coach you, to help you succeed and to help you amplify the impact of your work.
One of the most common comments I get from talk about talk podcast listeners, these ambitious executives, is how much they appreciate how I summarize the main learnings at the end of each episode. So I figured that after 100 episodes. I should summarize my own key learnings. I’m really excited to share these with you.
So here you go – the top three most important communication insights. All three of these insights are things that I knew long before I started podcasting. But these are the 3 insights that really stood out for me. You could call them under-rated skills. Things that I hope you’ll consider every time you’re preparing a speech or a presentation, creating a podcast episode, writing an email, when you’re sitting in a meeting – online or face to face, or whether you’re just engaging in small talk with colleagues. Whatever the communication scenario, these 3 insights are worth your attention.
Are you ready? If I could only share 3 things with you, these are the 3 communication insights.
- Keep it short
- It’s not about you
- Adopt a growth mindset
- Keep it short
- Its not about you
- Adopt a growth mindset
Let me BRIEFLY elaborate on each of these.
KEEP IT SHORT – in other words: BREVITY IS KING
Of course we’ve all heard this before, right? But it’s not easy.
There’s plenty of evidence that shorter is better. Starting with that guy at work who goes on and on in the meeting… Get to the point! Or the article that you’re considering reading. But then you scroll down and see its not an article, it a dissertation. Or when you consider listening to a podcast episode, but then you notice it’s an hour long. That’s a lot of time to devote to a podcast episode. And when I look at TalkAboutTalk podcast stats, there’s a clear correlation between the length of an episode and its number of downloads. Shorter episodes have more downloads. Similarly, shorter and more focused email newsletters have more clicks and more engagement.
Its not just for TAT though.
There’s a reason why TEDTalks are capped at just 18 minutes. And there’s a reason why we talk about THE POWER OF THREE (not the power of ten or the power of 25). It’s 3. People appreciate brevity.
Whether you’re a podcaster or a business executive or whatever, you’ve probably heard and read that we have short attention spans. You literally have a few seconds to draw people in, or they will tune you out.
Were inundated with an abundance information. Our cognitive loads, the quantity of information and the number of decisions we need to make every day – our choices of what to do (never mind what to pay attention to) is overwhelming. SO we need to keep it short!
Despite this, I have to be honest with you. I’m tempted – literally everyday – to share with my audience everything I know. But I realized over the past few years that FOCUSING the message is a much more effective way to teach and coach. Focus means impact.
Of course there are exceptions! I think of my friend Anne Muhlethaler, whom you’ve heard on this podcast share her expertise on PERSONAL STYLE and on being MINDFUL. Her newsletters and her podcasts are lengthy. But they’re chalk full of quality content. Clearly she respects our time. Ditto the PIVOT podcast with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway – its usually around an hour. And I listen to every episode. But these are the exceptions. In some instances (be it a presentation, a podcast episode, an article or newsletter, the longform is ideal. But I think this is an exception.
And as I keep telling myself, I can go longform when I write my book. (But then again, even book editors encourage authors to cut cut cut. Don’t they?)
It’s about respecting your audience. How many times have you thought – gosh this presentation (or this meeting or this article) is going on too long. It’s common, right? But how many times have you thought “that presentation or meeting or article was too short? It DOESN’T HAPPEN!
It’s about respecting your audience. Time is a valuable resource.
I think about this when I’m outlining a new podcast episode. Say it’s 30 minutes long. Is it worth someone’s attention for 30 minutes? If not, I’ll cut it down or I’ll change the script to make it more impactful.
I encourage you to do the same thing. If you’re creating a presentation or a speech, or even an email, ask yourself: what’s my ONE KEY MESSAGE? Keep it short, and keep it focused.
So that’s the first key communication insight. Keep it short. Brevity is king. The second key communication insight Is…
IT’S NOT ABOUT YOU
This insight. Is something that I’ve tried to focus on my entire career. Way back when I was a brand manager at Kraft Foods, one of my pet peeves was what I called myopic marketers. When marketers are being self focused instead of consumer focused. They use the word I a lot. It’s like they lack that empathy gene and they’re being selfish.
When I was a student at HBS and then when I was on the faculty at the University of Toronto teaching in the MBA program, I noticed that. Without exception. The best teachers were relentlessly focused on the students and their wants and needs. As opposed to some of the other faculty members that were focused on their perspective and making themselves look good.
I notice it sometimes now. With podcasters, either in their actual podcast episode or even in social media, they’ll say things like “in this week’s episode we talk about…” It’s WE and ME and I. As opposed to making the announcement about the listener and why they might want to listen, what they’ll get out of it.
This is tough though. We’re all wired to be focused on ourselves. We’re inherently self-interest seeking. Not self-interest seeking with guile, not most of the time! But focused on our selves and our best interests.
Instead, I encourage you to be other-directed.
It’s not about you.
It may seem ironic, but when you make it about the other person, the person you’re communicating with, YOU are more likely to succeed. I’m not talking about being manipulative here. I’m talking about being genuinely empathetic and other focused.
Research shows that when you talk less and the other person talks more, they will like you more. And I talk about this all the time in the context of improving our listening skills. And when you’re in a job interview, the more you can get the interviewer to talk, the more likely you are to get the job. WOW. Such an amazing insight.
During online workshops, I sometimes get this comment, “My favorite part was the breakout groups.” Wait what? You mean when I wasn’t sharing my incredible insights with you? When I wasn’t even on the screen? ? YEP. It’s not about me.
My friend Sharon whom I mentioned a few minutes ago, the successful executive recruiter, she is a master of making it about the other person. And she encourages us to do the same. When you’re networking, it’s not about getting something. It’s not even about reciprocity. It’s about being generous. It’s about what can you do for the other person. Ask “what can I do for YOU?” “how can I help you?” Thank you Sharon! Again, it’s about being generous. And it will fuel your success.
Being other-focused will also help boost your confidence. Say you’re preparing for a presentation or a speech and you’re feeling nervous. Instead of focusing on YOURSELF, focus on the audience! This perspective can boost your confidence.
SO – Instead of being selfish and myopic, be generous, be empathetic. Be a good listener. Track the ratio of you talking versus the other person talking. Change the subject back to the other person. Don’t be that guy who talks about himself way too much. It’s not about you.
SO the first two communication insights are keep it short and it’s not about you. The third insight is to adopt a growth mindset.
A GROWTH MINDSET
It’s amazing how so many clients nod their head when I start talking about a growth mindset. Sure its a cliche. Its almost jargon. Everyone has a growth mindset these days, amiright? Well NO. they don’t.
I have to tell you, If I had to choose ONE THING that will help you with your communication – with LIFE, it’s that we should adopt a growth mindset. Yep, I saved the best for last.
Let me backup. WHAT IS a Growth Mindset?
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck does a lot of research on this phenomenon. She distinguishes between a person with a growth mindset versus a “fixed mindset.” If you have a fixed mindset, you perceive yourself to have fixed skills, attributes and abilities. SO you’re less likely to invest in yourself. You defend your status. You’re focused on self-verification.
On the other hand, if you have a growth mindset, you’re curious. You improve. You’re more comfortable with risks. You’re ok with being wrong. You invest in self-improvement. You LEARN.
Certainly the research demonstrates that a growth mindset has many many benefits. Including seeking stretch goals; increased motivation; enhanced brain development lower stress, anxiety and depression; better relationships; and ultimately improved performance.
Here’s how I define a growth mindset. Someone with a growth mindset knows what they know, and they’re keen to learn more. Let me say that again. I know what I know and I’m keen to learn more. Pretty simple, right? Simple yet powerful.
From a communication perspective though, I cant emphasize how much a growth mindset will help you. It sets the tone for your communication. You are a learner. You’re open. You know what you know and you’re keen to learn more.
I’ve started telling my clients that a growth mindset will get them out of anything. Everything around us is always changing. We need to change too. We need to learn. We need to embrace growth if we’re going to succeed. So a growth mindset will keep you relevant.
It will also help you when you feel a lack of confidence. If you adopt a growth mindset, you can handle just about any Q. Recently I’ve done a few open Q&A sessions on communication skills. How do I prepare for these? I wish you could be a fly on the wall before I open my laptop to those zoom meetings. I close my eyes, I take a slow deep breathe, and I remind myself that I have a growth mindset. I know what I know and I’m keen to learn more. Therefore I can handle ANY Q that comes my way.
A growth mindset will helps elevate your confidence. But it will also prevent you from becoming arrogant. Its impossible to be arrogant when you have a growth mindset. People who are arrogant are defensive and closed. Gosh it must be exhausting to have a fixed mindset.
So a key advantage of a growth mindset is that it helps establish that ideal equilibrium between being nervous and being arrogant.
I could go on and on with examples and advantages of a growth mindset. But let me just add one ore that seems to be coming up a lot lately. When senior leaders exhibit a growth mindset, they demonstrate a desire to learn, as yes, make mistakes. Their openness to learning and growth trickles down and creates a psychologically safe culture. These are the cultures, the environments that research shows again and again are the highest performing. The highest performing teams operate in psychologically safe environments, that are created by leaders who openly communicate a growth mindset.
So for all these reasons, I encourage you to adopt a growth mindset and communicate the fact that you know what you know but you’re keen to learn more.
This growth mindset will keep you relevant, it will help with your confidence, and it will make you a better leader.
Some suggestions for how to cultivate this growth mindset? Well, there are some easy ways to seek learning opportunities. Read. Take a course. Go to a lecture. Listen to a podcast. Fill your brain with new ideas.
There are also other, more difficult things you can do. Take risks. Admit publicly that you don’t know the answers. Reframe challenges as opportunities for growth. Experiment.
Here’s an easy one to start with. Use the word LEARN as much as you can, and especially use it instead of the word FAIL.
And another one: Seek feedback. My friend Sharon says this all the time. Feedback is a gift. If you have a growth mindset, you seek feedback.
So speaking of feedback, if you have any, I would absolutely LOVE to hear. What do you think about these three key insights that I pulled from the 1st 100 Talk About Talk episodes? Do you remember the 3 insights?
Keep it short
It’s not about you
Adopt a growth mindset
Do you agree with these 3 insights? Is there another insight that you would add? DO you have any other suggestions for me going forward into the next 100 episodes?
As always, I would love to hear from you. Please email me anytime at Andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com.
That’s it for the 1st 100! Thanks so much for listening. I really mean it.
- LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/andreawojnicki/
- Web: https://talkabouttalk.com/
- Email: Andrea@TalkAboutTalk.com