How to Captivate: Our Brains Love a Puzzle

our_brains_love_puzzleIt’s true – our brains get all lit up and engaged when there is a mystery to solve (source here).

Do you watch the tv show Scandal? I do. It’s terrible, really, because by that time of night my eyes are scratchy and my body really wants to sleep. But my brain – it is so excited. It is excited because it knows we will be taken on an adventure of epic proportions. Unexpected things will happen, clues will be dropped, dead ends will shock us. People we like will do things that absolutely blow our minds – things we didn’t think they were capable of (if you watch the show, you know exactly who I mean.) My brain loves to guess and theorize and looks for signs as the episode evolves. In short – it loves trying to solve the mystery set before us in the show.

Downton Abbey does this, too – just in a completely different time era and with a very different feel (the rest of it is shockingly similar if you think about it).

Television writers and producers create these exciting mysteries because they know they captivate us. And we can look at the wild success of these shows and confidently use these same strategies in our own communicating to have a similar effect.

So, let’s do that. I’ll show you some ways you can use the “our brain loves a puzzle” in your own communication, even if you aren’t “dating” the president or the sudden and unexpected heiress of a huge estate.

In service of our goal to use a “puzzle” to captivate, I’ll cover three things:

  1. What is a puzzle for communication purposes?
  2. When do I use a puzzle to captivate?
  3. How do I resolve the puzzle in a way that helps me reach my communication goal? (Such as convince my boss, land the client, etc.)

Sound good? Alright.

What is a puzzle for communication purposes?

A puzzle is when you offer up part of the information – enough to get their attention and peak their interest – but then leave out the conclusion and wrap up. Essentially, you leave them guessing for a while.

When do I use a puzzle to captivate?

Use this mystery-building, puzzle strategy when you want to get and keep the attention of your audience for a sustained period of time. It is not ideal to create a puzzle when your audience is there to get a simple “how to” from you – this could frustrate them terribly. There are exceptions, but this is a generally good rule to follow. Other captivation strategies are better for these kinds of communication – like using compelling visuals and storytelling.

How do I resolve the puzzle in a way that helps me reach my communication goal?

This is the most exciting part of the puzzle strategy! The resolution of the puzzle can be a super fun way to lead your listener straight to your desired outcome. For example, the story you tell in the beginning gets resolved at the end by the main characters using your product to solve their problem – but in a completely unexpected way! A special note here: don’t hype up a story at the beginning that has a boring, obvious ending. So, in this example I’m sharing, if the main character simply used your product and their problem got solved, your audience will roll their eyes and feel like they just attended a bad infomercial. If you are going to use this kind of story, be sure the ending really is exciting and unexpected – even if it does lead right back to your product or service.

Here – let me give you some examples of how you can use puzzles and mystery to captivate your listeners:

  • Tell an engaging story to begin your speech, one that they are excited to hear resolve… then, before telling the end, say, “I’ll tell you what happened for our lovely friends in this story at the end of our talk today. I think you will be very surprised by how this all ended up.” (Intrigue, right?!)
  • In your next company meeting, hand out a slip of paper that has something written on it then tell them to listen for the answer in your talk: For example, write “You are the wool spinner.” Tell everyone that they will learn what this means if they pay really good attention during the meeting. (Maybe they win a prize if they are the first to figure it out?)
  • During a meeting or speech, prompt your listeners early on with a challenge: Like this: “There are three ways I can think of that we can go with this. At the end of our talk today, I’d love to hear what you think those are. Bonus points if you think of one I haven’t thought of yet! You all have a piece of paper in front of you so you can take notes.”

All of these are mysteries that engage attention. Can you see how they would activate a part of the brains of your listeners that we simply don’t think to activate in our communication most of the time?

Can you also see just how easy it can be to implement on these? All it takes is some thinking ahead and intention to captivate. From there, it’s just a fun few minutes of creative thinking and implementation.

Go try them out. Let us know how it goes. Share in the comments any ideas you have or things you’ve tried in the past. I’d LOVE to add more captivating puzzle works to my own communication and I know our whole community would love to learn from you, too.

Now – here’s a puzzle for you.

Where can you get a truly useful, easy to implement plan for captivating and inspiring anyone? And let’s sweeten this mystery even more. Where can you get this at no cost to you? The answer is somewhere on this very page upon which you rest your eyes. Happy hunting! (Notice how your brain just lit up?)

Puzzle heart photo credit here.

How to Captivate & Inspire Anyone

football_play_by_mikebaird_flickrI am not a sports fan. And when I say that I am not a sports fan, I am being polite. Really, I think something must have happened when I was a kid that traumatized me around sports because my dislike of them runs pretty… well, viscerally deep.

As fate would have it, my husband LOVES sports. I mean, the degree to which I don’t like sports is directly and equally reflected in the amount he loves them. Ask him anything about what’s happening in sports right this minute and I guarantee, he will know about it and be ready to dig in on details with you.

Imagine how frustrating it would be to not be able to share your deep love of something with your wife – like at all – because she simply doesn’t care about it and shuts down at the mere mention of the topic. (I know this sounds mean, but I’m just being honest here.)

My husband is a clever man, though. And he gets me.

So, do you want to know what he does when he is so excited to share some big sports news and I am the only one around he can share it with in that moment?

He tells me a beautiful, personal story about the player. He tells me about the player’s daughter who just got out of the hospital after a life-threatening illness. Or, he tells me the story of how this player proposed to his wife.

I absolutely love human stories. I love stories about love and family and relationships and babies and courage. My clever husband knows this and so he employs this reliable captivation technique to get my attention when he wants to talk sports.

He tells me the human story, which is completely true and beautiful, and then – when tears are running down my face about this amazing player’s personal life – he tells me about this unbelievable play he just made in the game. And as he tells me this story about this player pushing his edges in the game, pummeling the defense as he leaps into the end zone (don’t analyze my sports language here – just go with me on this, ok?), I am rooting for this guy as though I’m wearing a team jersey and cheersing with my team logo beer mug.

What?! Is that me screaming at the TV during the game?!

Yes, yes it is… against all odds.

This right here, is a captivation technique. It’s a fabulous one, too. It works with anyone, as long as you know the essentials:

  • Who are they?
  • What do they care about?
  • What will delight/captivate them?

Weave all of that together into a message just for your intended listener/audience, and captivation is assured.

You see how it works now, right? My husband has answered these question about me long ago:

Who is she: She’s my wife, often the only one nearby when an incredible play is made, she doesn’t like sports (at all)

What does she care about: Love, self-expression, family, wellness, reaching our potential, courage, stories, stories, stories

What will delight/captivate her? Stories about love, self-expression, family, pushing our edges, courage…

And this precise process is what has lead to way more “sports” conversations than I probably even realize. Good conversations – ones I’ve actually enjoyed. (Which still shocks me to realize.)

Want to talk more about how to captivate and inspire others? Of course you do! Join me and Kelly Galea of Power Up Living Radio on Wednesday, February 12, 2014 at Noon Eastern as we dig much deeper on this topic. I promise to give you as many of my best captivation and inspiration tools as I can possibly fit into our interview. Click here to set your reminder so you don’t miss the show!

Meantime, tell me your favorite way to captivate someone’s attention in the comments below. Or, has there been a time when you were captivated by something that surprised you? Tell us about it in the comments, please.

Thanks go to Mike Baird on Flickr for this awesome shot of some exciting looking football (now that face is evidence of some personal edge-pushing – I like it!)

How to Answer the Question: So, what do you do?

networkingbyRedHead5147onFlickrI’m a speaker – have been for over 25 years (back then, I was carrying a book of condoms and a banana around teaching my college classmates how to protect themselves from the HIV virus).

Because I’ve been on stages and in front of rooms of people for so long, people often assume that I do not get nervous talking with others.

This is pretty far from the truth, frankly.

They say we teach what we need to learn.

I’m a classic case of that. Part of the reason that I began speaking all of those years ago is because I got so anxious talking with others.  I began speaking largely because I had such anxiety in new social situations (at the time, I didn’t know what an introvert was – and that I was one) and I simply wanted some really effective ways of dealing with that social anxiety.

Networking can be scarier than speaking

I’ll admit that all of these years of speaking have been a powerful teacher. While I get nervous before every presentation in front of a new audience, I have a lot of confidence in my ability to engage and inspire a room full of people when I speak.

But here’s the distinction: giving a presentation and standing in a small group of my peers are very different creatures.

It took me a lot longer to feel comfortable at a networking event, chatting in small groups of people I don’t know, than it did to get comfortable speaking (if comfort is the word you want to use for a love of speaking that still involves significant nerves).

While this may surprise you, think about the difference. When you are the speaker, you are automatically given some level of “prestige.” You are being held up as an expert in your topic area. Assuming you only speak on topics where you have masterful expertise (and I highly recommend this be the case), this feels right and good to you as well.

Why it’s so hard to talk to people at networking events

Networking does not give you this automatic advantage that speaking does (unless you are the speaker for the night as well). Walking into a room full of people, for many introverts (me included) or socially anxious people (me included) can be overwhelming. Heck, you don’t have to be an introvert or socially anxious to feel significant discomfort in this situation. Thoughts fill our heads like:

Where do I go first?

Why does everyone look like they know each other, except me?

I can’t just walk up to these people – they are clearly engaged in private conversations!

And then, of course, the real crux of the matter:

What will I say to them?!

It took me a lot longer, but I decided a few years ago to take this fear of talking with others at networking events head-on, too.

Now, I’ll admit, it’s still not as easy for me to walk up to a group of people I don’t know at an event as it is to be the speaker. And there is much to say about what has worked well in these “networking”* conversations that has nothing to do with what I actually say. As in all relationship building, how we listen and show genuine engagement is far more important than exactly what we say about ourselves.

But that’s all easy stuff because as a people-loving introvert, I love hearing about other people. The hard part was talking about myself in a way that serves my business as well as the new relationship I’m engaging.

That said, I’ve come up with a pretty reliable way to talk about what I do at these events. Just in case you struggle with talking about yourself that way I have, I’ll give you the “formula” so you can plug and play your particular details.

A formula for answering the question: “So, what do you do?”

Here is the formula I use – and I share with all of my clients as well:

What do you solve?

For whom do you solve it?

How will their lives be better after buying your stuff or working with/hiring you?

If you use this formula, you will have covered the essentials of a great Hello Intro. (Since I think “elevator speech” in no way represents this circumstance, Hello Intro is what I call the answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”)

But even with this great formula, your Hello Intro might still be pretty boring. Even if it’s not boring, it might not express powerfully enough just how awesome it would be to work with you. Which is why I recommend adding one more element: a sense of what it feels like to work with you.

Adding in the element of what it feels like to work with you isn’t as difficult as it might sound. You do this by word choice, analogy or even just the tone of your voice. The point is that when people feel inspired to work with you or refer you to a friend, a whole lot of that inspiration comes from the style of your communication, way beyond the words you say.

An example. My answer to the question: “So, what do you do?”

By way of example, let me tell you my answer to the question, “So, what do you do?”

Let’s just play out the whole start of the conversation – just for fun :)

Lovely person at the event I’m attending: “Hello. Are you having a good time here tonight?”

Me: “I am, thank you. How about you?”

Lovely person at the event I’m attending: “I really am, thank you. So, what do you do for work?”

Me: (smiling at the invitation to share about my work) “I help women in business get what they want by stepping into their authentic, powerful voice.” (smiling again)

Lovely person at the event I’m attending: “Huh – interesting. How do you do that?”

Me: “Well… women come to me for three reasons: (tapping on my fingers to count them off) 1. They are frustrated at work because their ideas aren’t getting heard or acted upon in the ways they want, 2. They have a presentation coming up and they want it to be amazing (I’m a speaking coach), or 3. They own their own business and they realize they need way more clarity and confidence when they talk about their business and do presentations to magnetize clients.

Lovely person at the event I’m attending: “Well, that is very cool! I have a friend who is having that exact struggle in her work…” or “… wow, I really need you… ” (see, it works great! :))

Of course, I am quick to turn the conversation around and learn more about them. It is so important that we keep the emphasis on relationship-building, not on sales. Now is not the time to “sell” ourselves – the relationship is not ready for that yet. 

So, what do you think? Does this formula serve you in creating your own Hello Intro? Whether you like my formula or not, let’s hear your Hello Intro in the comments. I want to learn more about you. Plus, we can all benefit from hearing as many Hello Intros as possible to help us refine our own.

 

*I don’t like the term networking. It reminds me of a bunch of wires all connected together at a server in some cold corporate closet. I just haven’t come up with a better way to express this special kind of interaction. If you’ve got a better term, I’d love to hear it!

Thanks to Redhead 5147 on Flickr for this image that makes me think of one too many anxiety-inducing networking events of years past. Happy those years are over.

I Will Not Be So Gentle in 2014

As every new year begins, I choose a theme for the next 365 days. I have been doing this for 12 years.

Last year was the year of Magic, and it served me and my business so well that I wanted to share a few takeaways with you. I think you will be able to take some useful things from them, too. Then, I will tell you why I’m taking a completely different angle for 2014 – one that’s not so gentle anymore.

But first…

Reflection on The Year of Magic

Last year was The Year of Magic. I chose magic as my theme because I wanted to experience things like: trust, delight, and the unexpected – all elements of magic. (You can see my video about The Year of Magic here.)

Looking back on this past year, I can see how consciously inviting more magic into my life served my business well. Here is some of the particularly useful stuff I learned during The Year of Magic:

By focusing on Trust:  More than once I had to let go and trust – my own mastery as well as the unknown. I let go of a lot of old thinking and beliefs – just consciously decided to let them fall away. It took practice, but it worked. As a result, I got on some stages (virtual and live) that were new and scary for me. I talked more about my work at networking events (I used to deflect and ask a zillion questions about them instead of share what I do).  As a direct result, I am closing out this year at revenues nearly 70% higher than the year before. Trust is awesome. Center_for_authentic_expression_library

By focusing on Delight: As we painted and decorated the new Center for Authentic Expression, I picked colors and artwork that simply brought me delight. I love going into the office! It is a truly creative space for me now. (You can see a picture of the library area here to the right.) I have and continue to create some really awesome stuff for you in this delightful space. You’ll hear more about that in coming months.  I also worked extra hard to use images and stories in my presentations this year that would captivate and delight my audiences. It worked beautifully (see above note about income increase – plus it was really fun)!

By focusing on the Unexpected: Inviting the unexpected simply requires an opening in our minds to things we didn’t plan or even think we’d want – and a bit of glancing around for opportunities.For example, invitations to be a part of TWO beautiful digital magazines this past year was completely unexpected. I was gifted involvement in a class I really LOVE that is helping me elevate my business game quite a bit this next year. Plus, I have had more referrals come my way than ever before – some of them from colleagues who I didn’t even know knew me (the power of getting out there with your message bigger and bolder!).

Everything about The Year of Magic wasn’t all rainbows and sparkly wands, of course.

I struggled to find the right people to help me in my business. Even more, I struggled to learn how to let go enough to make good use of the help I did find. (Still working on that.) I worked hard to launch a course that no one wanted, despite some pretty delightful feedback about the content. In fact, that course launch brought me a beautiful stream of new one-on-one clients, which was quite an unexpected outcome.  Yet, I remain committed to creating classes, workshops and retreats – online and live. I absolutely believe that group learning is incredibly powerful – plus, I am a teacher and facilitator in my soul. This is where my best work magically shows up and the place from which I make the greatest impact – and I miss it.

So, all in all, I am happy with the outcomes of The Year of Magic. It was a beautiful year, full of a whole lot of beautiful work with amazing people (you know who you are and I am so happy that I got to work with YOU.)

It was also a year of immense growth, personally and professionally. There were plenty of learning experiences that, frankly, were exhausting. And yet I’m still standing.

In fact, I am not only still standing – but I am standing straight up and poised. Ready. Activated and leaning way in.

There’s been a shift for me as I close out this past year and head into the next.

The fact is, I am through being so gentle with my work.

The Year of Magic is lovely. It’s glittery and open and inviting of many interpretations. Sprinkle, glow, twirl… isn’t that lovely?

But the time has come for me to Take a Stand.

I am through with the gentle, sparkly commitments of years past. They were good for preparing and nurturing the work – but now it’s time to get a bit big and tough. (Am I scary yet? :) )

It is time for me to Take a Stand for my message – the one that I absolutely know will serve you completely, powerfully, unfailingly in your desire to build a sustainable business doing the work you love.

So, 2014 is the year I Take a Stand for YOU and your life-changing work.

Because here is what I know to be true, at the very core of my being:

There are real people out there right now, looking for you and the beautiful way you are meant to serve their lives. The problem is – they don’t know you exist. And if they do know you exist, they have no idea how absolutely life-changing your gifts will be for them, because you aren’t yet saying it big, bold and clearly – everywhere – in a way that calls their name.

The thing is, there IS MAGIC to magnetizing clients and building a business you love. That magic is this:

**You become a leading authority in your area of expertise.**

You speak, you publish, you share your radically clear message with confidence, in your distinctive voice. You stand out, you become known as the person to come to for your particular expertise.

YOU. You ARE the expert. You DO change lives with your beautiful work. Now, it’s time you become known for this, so your right people can find you with ease.

For me, 2014 is all about teaching you exactly HOW to become the leading authority in your area of expertise.

So take a deep belly breath and don’t think one more second about how you are going to get there. Just rest and replenish, because if you step into this opportunity, this year is going to be ah-mazing for you – and for all of those beautiful souls who’ve been waiting for you to show them what you’ve got!

Happy 2014 to you!

I love that we’re in this together.

Let’s start today, right here. What do you take a stand for in 2014? What do you know for sure, at the core of your being, that you want to say to your right people? Share below, will you? We’ll all hold the intention with you!

It’s not about getting clients

You want to build a sustainable business, of course.

Actually, unless you are independently wealthy (my guess is that you are not), you actually must make a good living doing this work of yours in order to keep doing it.

And you know you must keep doing it. This is the work of your soul, your calling.

So, given that you must make money and you must keep doing this work, it would follow that the place to spend your energy and focus is on getting more clients who pay you to do this beautiful, life-enhancing work.

That’s what most people do – they focus on getting clients.

Which is why most people doing purpose-driven work struggle painfully to make enough money to keep doing that work.

Yes – focusing on getting clients is the cause of your struggle to attract more clients.

Intense focus on getting clients is terribly unattractive and off-putting to the people you are on this earth to serve with your beautiful message and work.

I’ll show you: Remember the last time you were at an event and it was clear that the person who just walked up to meet you was completely focused on getting clients?

Remember the way it felt to talk with them? Even if they weren’t blatantly obvious about “selling” to you, you could feel that they were “fishing” with their questions.

They were acting interested in you but their questions and their superficial energy told you otherwise.

If you want to attract to you the people you are on this earth to serve, you must magnetize them.

You must become irresistible to the right people. They must see you as a place to come for support and trustworthy guidance in their own growth, in a way that matters to them deeply.

Magnetic, transformational communication – the kind that attracts clients to you with ease and grace – happens on a visceral, energetic level. It is never about “getting clients.” It’s always about offering our gifts in service of others.

How do you communicate in a way that magnetizes the right people to you?

There is a whole article to share on this (look for it next week), but here are the essentials. Magnetic communication has these three elements:

  1. It’s all about them (truly).
  2. It is rich in your distinctive voice. 
  3. It is generously useful.

If you use this list above as a checklist for every communication – networking, speaking, writing – you will begin noticing that clients come your way without you trying.

The reasons for this are simple: other-focused, authentic, high-quality communication inspires connection and engagement.

From this place of strong human connection, knowing that you are a confident guide and trustworthy support, it is natural – and often exciting – for clients to pay you to help them reach their goals.

Yes, they become clients – but only because it was never about getting clients for you.

It was – and is – about taking a stand for what your right people want and need and showing up with integrity and commitment to help them get it.

Take_a_Stand_Service

This builds you a sustainable business that feels amazing to you. This serves your clients beautifully and powerfully. This ensures you will be able to continue to do this work of your soul as long as you feel called to do it.

This is the magic formula for creating a sustainable business doing the work of your soul:

Take a stand for what you know to be true (your Message)

and commit to being of service to

the people you are on this Earth to serve.

Start  here – What are you taking a stand for? Please share in the comments below. (I’ll go first – see below.)

P.S. Watch next week for a lot more about how exactly to apply those three elements of magnetic communication.