I spent today on Zoom, maybe you did too. Sometimes I prefer the phone, because you can pace back and forth. Not to brag, but I’m very good at pacing.

My clients though, usually prefer video to phone.

Why? It’s VISUAL.

And so is the best communication.

For example, which phrase is more memorable?

1) Surfing with Sartre (French philosopher and playwright; nothing in his resume about water sports)

2) Adaptive Attunement

I vote for “Surfing with Sartre” (we’ll get to adaptive attunement later). Surfing is visual. You can picture . . . a sandy beach . . . blue sky . . . mountain-high waves about to crash down, with earth-shattering force, on you and your puny surfboard . . .

But I digress.

“Surfing with Sartre” is a book by philosophy professor and skilled surfer, Aaron James.  He uses surfing as a metaphor for how to cope with the uncontrollable forces of daily life (written before coronavirus, but perhaps applicable).

Although I love the title, I don’t plan to read the book, because “the fundamental idea is ‘adaptive attunement'” (NY Times book review by James Ryerson).

Adaptive attunement???

Not visual.

You can’t see adaptive attunement—and it’s impossible to remember. You won’t remember it in 5 minutes. I’m typing it, and I won’t remember it in 5 seconds.

A lot of business language sounds like “adaptive attunement.” But if you and I were talking over coffee, neither of us would ever use adaptive attunement in a sentence.

So why speak that way at work?

When I help executives focus their ideas, I push to identify a main message (the single most important thing) and then the key points (often three, to develop the message). And we use simple words, plain English.

Let’s apply that method to adaptive attunement. Here’s how I understand it—and, of course, I probably don’t—based on reading a few reviews of the book.

Main message: Ride the wave. The wave is a powerful visual; it beats adaptive attunement any day. (Not that I’d ever want to ride a mile high wave. I’d rather pace. Or hide under a bed.)

3 key points:

1) The wave is a given.

2) You can’t control it.

3) But you can harmonize with it.

Harmonize? Hmm, still too abstract, what does harmonize look like? Well, in the current pandemic: wearing a mask, getting vaccinated, and yes—Zoom!

Tip: To capture people’s attention, use word-pictures.

P.S. Speaking of Zoom—please check these 10 webinars to see if any are right for your team.

Consider Presence, or Your Point?, or Bulletproof Feedback. Or the 4-session Dynamic Speaking, to get heard, get remembered & get results.

P.P.S. Rather just read a book?

You’ve Got 8 Seconds: Communication Secrets for a Distracted World—selected by a Fortune 50 company for their book club, translated into five languages.

“EVERYONE should read this book. It doesn’t matter what your profession is, you will need to convince people that you and/or your ideas are the best path forward. I am a research scientist (MD, PhD) and have presented more than 139 lectures over the past 7 years. Paul’s advice is invaluable. And it’s sprinkled with humor—I laughed out loud at many passages. I LOVE this book, it is my Bible for presentations.” —Nancy Richert, MRI Acquisition and Analysis Expert, NeuroRx

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PAUL HELLMAN consults & speaks internationally on how to make your point—fast, focused, powerful.

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