Commentary

Dialogue in the Desert

The desert sun blazes down as I stand in a pen transfixed by a horse running circles around me.

She stops and starts and changes direction on my command, which I reinforce with the flick of a switch.

After five minutes or so, the pace changes. I turn my back and slowly walk away. Calmly, the horse moves toward me, signaling that she is ready to accept me as her leader.

I’m thrilled. With hardly a word from me we have had quite the conversation.

The young mare is acting on instinct, making decisions that have allowed her species to survive for thousands of years. I’m sharpening my communications skills. And while I have only moved a few steps in a tight little circle, it feels like I have worked just as hard as my equine friend.

Learning to take charge of a horse is one of many new experiences I will encounter as a student of Dialogue in the Desert. Dialogue, as veterans call it for short, is a strategic communications thinking and planning workshop designed to give participants the views and tools they need to be influential and persuasive in the workplace. It’s the first of its kind and the longest running in its field. Read More...

Anyway You Slice It…

On a recent car trip I listened to the audio version of Malcolm Gladwell’s newish book Blink and emerged at my destination with a few of leg cramps – and a broader vocabulary. Gladwell is the writer who caused a sensation with his first book, The Tipping Point. Now he has enriched our lexicon with the term thin-slicing.

Gladwell says that people who have perfected the art of thin-slicing have developed the ability to filter “the very few factors that matter from an overwhelming number of variables.” Or as a scientist might put out, they are skilled at receiving the signal and filtering out the noise. Read More...

Expert Advice: How Not to Step in It

You can’t always tell a book by a cover – or by it’s title for that matter. And that explains why Jacked Up is such a surprise. It’s actually a book about speeches and presentations. But rather than providing a step-by-step guide, its advice runs along the lines of how not to step in it.

The subtitle explains author Bill Lane’s motivation for writing his tome. Jacked Up is The Inside Story about How Jack Welch Talked GE into Becoming the World’s Greatest Company. Lane wrote it to capitalize on his experience working closely with the larger-than-life Welch. For 20 years while Welch ran GE, Lane ran the uber-CEO’s executive communications.

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Bringing Oral History to Life

Are we continuing the shift that started with radio and television to becoming a more oral communication-based society? That may be the case as we increase our use of technology to access intellectual content. Take for example the great speeches of the last century. Until recently, they were largely locked in history books. Today, many of them are available in either audio or visual form on the Internet. And improved accessibility is spawning a new pastime – watching and listening to the most influential speeches and presentations of the recent past.

A good source of recorded presentations is TED.com. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design. It started out in 1984 as a conference bringing together top thinkers in its three areas of focus. Today, TED puts the best of its talks and performances on the Internet, for free. So, events that were once open only to the elite who could afford the price of admission are now available to all. I’m a TED fan, and I have plenty of company – all around the world. I’m sure the spirit of Marshall McLuhan is smiling as the TED-o-philes gather around the communal fire. Read More...