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New Day for Communication

USA Today reported last week that communication is changing in public places. For example, patrons are encouraged to actually keep their cell phones ON during concerts, symphony performances or theatre plays. In fact, special seating has been arranged for such people who will do so. Why? They want people to tweet and blog about the show. Concert promoters know that portable, hand held devices may just be their best friend, when it comes to free marketing and promotion.

My thought is simple. The rules have just been turned upside down. In some ways, they are the opposite of the former rules we grew accustomed to. Be quiet. Turn your cell phone off and disconnect. Today—the word is engage. Be part of the show.

Drew Neisser, from Fast Company magazine, reminds us that being a great speaker was never easy, but now, with your audience likely to have a mobile device in hand and real-time access to multiple social channels, the challenges have gotten even greater. Drew inspired me to create a list of rules for engaging listeners in this new world of portable devices:

1. Don’t become nervous if they are looking down. They may be taking notes on an iPad or tweeting something about your message.

2. Don’t reprimand audiences for using portable devices. This is how people engage today and how they may ask questions about your topic.

3. Prepare for audiences who have access to information before you speak. Get your facts straight. Speak with humility and accuracy—you don’t know who’s listening.

4. Learn to tweet and share tweetable statements. Imagine your audience is spellbound by your talk. If so, they’ll want to @mention you, direct message you or tweet about your talk.

5. Get real and get ready for real-time feedback. Speakers no longer have to wait to discover how well the audience liked them. Be honest and transparent. Texts and tweets will return the favor.

You may feel like an “immigrant” in this new world of techie “natives.” It’s dynamic and moving in new directions. This is why it’s so important for communicators to stay current with the culture in which they live. While I don’t enjoy the shows, I watch MTV or VH1 from time to time. I meet with technology “junkies” who know the latest ways to provide content. More and more, those vehicles are mobile. So even if your message is timeless—your methods must adapt.

I can hardly wait to put something in your hands. Next month, in January 2012, we will be releasing a brand, new Habitudes book. I call it: Habitudes For Communicators. It will be full of new rules for communicators. You can pre-order a discounted copy now if you like. Just click here.

What about you? What do you see changing when it comes to communicating to a new generation of listeners?
Tim

2 Comments

  1. Patrick McHugh on December 8, 2011 at 8:30 am

    Tim, I certainly agree with this observation of how communication is changing. The problem I see is that I worry we are losing the thoughtful for the real-time and often emotional. As a High School Athletic Director, I have for years asked coaches, players parents who have a complaint about a game to sleep on it before we discuss the issue. Whether it is a complaint about referees, playing time, game conditions etc. sleeping on the issue leads to perspective and often a more effective discussion. How can we maintain perspective in a world that now demands instantaneous communication?

  2. Lesley Butcher on December 8, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    I teach communication classes (business communication, public speaking, etc) at a large junior college in Houston, Texas. I also had the privilege of working with Jeanne Mayo very closely, a woman who I consider to be one of the greatest communicators I’ve known. Does your book focus on public communication or dyadic, small group? I’d love to pull some excerpts and introduce them to my students!

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New Day for Communication