Master Your Message Blog


Janet Yellen PresentationJanet Yellen, the current Chair of the US Federal Reserve, is a great example of the rot that has infected today’s communication. It’s unfortunate that a woman who holds arguably the highest financial office in the United States, a role that serves as a role model for ambitious women in the workforce, does such an atrocious job of communicating on just about any level.

She is just the sort of role model you do NOT want to have in a high visibility position.

In fact, her presentations are so indecipherable that one wonders if they’re created solely for the purpose of hiding the fact that she (or the US Federal Reserve) has absolutely no idea of what’s going on with the economy or how to begin to take steps to change course. This is most likely the truth. The question is whether they’re aware how much trouble they’re in, or not (and are maliciously trying to hide the fact).

The message I get as a result is that she’s incompetent. As in advertising, “Perception is reality.”

A Prime Example

In any event, let’s get back to her latest offering on the subject, Here is a paragraph from one of her latest speeches:
Read More …

sIf you have difficulty with putting together a persuasive presentation–of any type–quickly, then here’s a really simple structure you can use to get you started. When I say “presentation,” I’m including email, phone calls, conversations, letters (does anyone write these any more?)–virtually any form of communication in which you want to get your point across or that you want to result in an action.

It goes like this:


Simple really. Here it is with a little more detail (yes, this is the “Specifics” section of this email):

1. Situation. There’s a key rule for how to be most effective in any kind of learning situation: Start with what your audience knows–and then build new information on top. It’s the same thing Read More …

President Obama’s address at the White House this weekend outlining the decision he’d made regarding launching an attack on Syria was one of the least persuasive speeches I’ve seen him give (other than that questionable debate performance from the last election!). I had to review the transcript to get as good sense as to why.

He displayed one of the classic mistakes novice speakers make—using the word “but.” Now, we all know that using the word “but” in a sentence subordinates, even negates everything you said before it. Funnily enough, it has the same effect in a speech.

His performance was only “good”—not  his best— and that’s often the result of someone who is not 100% in tune with what they’re saying (after all, the Read More …

Here’s a fabulous little article, related to Ted Sorenson’s book, “Counselor,” in which he outlines the basic rules he followed when writing Preident John Kennedy’s classic speeches.

We certainly seem to have gotten away from these principles in most of politics today, although President Obama’s best speeches use many of these same techniques.

Most people I talk to about getting better at speaking in public want to talk about performance. But, the key challenge is in the message, not the performance.

If you have a targeted, succinct message that is persuasive because it is well-crafted, the performance in most cases, will follow naturally.

The book itself you can get on Amazon – by clicking here.