The Art of Communicating Creatively
Making your Promotions Memorable!
Are you bombarded by stacks of paper, inundated by E-mail messages, and discover often that your voice mail box is full? You are not alone! A recent study by the Chicago Tribune reported that 60% of the individuals in the United States are in some form of the information business and that the average North American worker spends over 50 hours a week communicating in some way. When Lakewood Publications polled over 500,000 subscribers regarding the most serious business problem existing today, the overwhelming number one answer was “Communication.” And just last month the Wall Street Journal reported that the average American worker receives 178 communications per day! What do you do with most of them? My audiences tell me that most often they end up in the circular file or victims of the “delete” button.
In my book The Creative Communicator–399 Ways to Make your Business Communications More Meaningful and Inspiring, I have discussed ideas in the following categories of basic communications that occur in most organizations: written, electronic, face-to-face, day-to-day feedback, enhancements and reminders, measurements, rewards and recognition, recoveries, and personal executive actions. The most important point to remember with all of these types of communication is that they involve both the sending and the receiving of a message.
My belief is that the more creatively a message is sent, the greater the chances that the message will be noticed and heard amidst the overwhelming clutter of communications that surround us. We also know that the average adult must hear something six times before it is internalized. So, in order to get our communications heard and heeded, we must either send them six different ways OR we must send them so creatively that the receiver get them the first time. My challenge to you is to get out of your boring cocoon of routine business communications and fly free. Become aware of all the marvelous, innovative, and creative ideas you can use to assure that your message gets heard.
A FRAME FOR CREATIVE COMMUNICATION
Remember the Human Level of your communications. Every interaction (and that is what a communication of any kind is) contains two levels: the Business Level which is all about meeting the external objectives and getting the business done and the Human Level which is all about how the receiver feels about the interaction. Does the person feel well-treated, cared about, and recognized as a unique individual? Or is the interaction cold, indifferent, and completely based on facts?
In my speeches and workshops I often ask people if they have ever been to a doctor who treated them only on the Business Level. Nearly every hand in the room goes up. Then I ask them how they felt about that interaction. Was it a positive one for them and one that they would choose again? What was missing was the Human Level. The same thing is true for written communications–look at the words you have chosen and the tone that comes across. Have you used words that convey a welcome, customer-friendly feeling on the Human Level or is your communication all business? Which one is more likely to produce the results you want?
These examples illustrate the importance of always remembering the Human Level in all your communications. This is where your own humanness, creativity, and passion can make a difference in the way you communicate your message and ultimately in how it is received. Begin to think about each of your training sessions, every announcement or invitation you send out, and evey event that you schedule from the perspective of both of these levels.
Surprise your receivers. Get your creative juices going so that you do something different to capture people’s attention. If your communication is strictly on the Business Level, chances are it is boring, routine, and rarely gets read. If, however, you do something to surprise people, you will find that they not only heed your communication, but they are eager to get the next one!
A trainer I know always sends something “3-D” with each of her invitations to a training session. It may be a stick of gum or candy bar (you can have a great deal of fun with the names of candy and gum), a sticker, a tiny plastic replica, or a book mark; however, it is always something creative that ties to the theme of the training. One invitation was on red and white checked paper with tiny black plastic ants glued on. The note read, “Come to the session on __________. It will be a picnic!” Employees can’t wait to get the next invitation AND they sign up for the sessions! Another organization sent out their marketing materials in a large red and white plastic capsule. Printed on the outside it said, “Personnel problems too big a pill to swallow? Call us for the right prescription,” and they had their marketing materials rolled up inside. Even an ordinary sign or advertisement can be worded in a way that gets people’s attention. A recent ad in Chicago magazine had the headline, “We don’t want any satisfied customers!” Such a creative headline makes you want to read the rest of the ad, and that is our purpose in promotion.
Look at such routine communications as your fax cover sheet, your business card, your voice mail message, the E-mail messages you send. Do they surprise people? Do they have a Human Level? I always end my voice mail message with a short thought for the day such as, “Be kind. Everyone you meet is carrying something.”
Make sure that your message contains something that appeals to each quadrant of the brain. There are various theories of right brain / left brain learning as well as the teachings of neurolinguistic programming and accelerated learning that emphasize different styles of learning and the importance of appealing to all of them in order for optimal learning to occur. The theory I like best to apply to creative communication is Ned Herrmann’s Whole Brain Model which is explained in his book The Creative Brain, Brain Books: Lake Lure, NC, 1988.
He theorizes that most of us have preferences in more than one quadrant of the brain; however, generally we prefer to use one quadrant of our brains more than the others. The upper left quadrant thinking processes are characterized as Logical, Analytical, Quantitative, and Fact-based. The lower left processes are Planned, Organized, Detailed, and Sequential. The upper right are Holistic, Intuitive, Synthesizing, and Integrating, and the lower right are Emotional, Interpersonal, Feeling-based, and Kinesthetic.
While it is important in any communication to include the facts in a planned and organized way (left brain processes), I believe that in order for your communication to be heard and acted upon today, it is of the utmost importance to include right brain processes (creativity and the Human Level) in your communications as well. In fact, I call my book “a right-brained book for left-brained people!” The important point to remember is that no matter whether you’re predominantly right-brained or left-brained, you can choose to express your ideas in innovative and creative ways. You only need a few “whacks on the side of the head” and a little practice!
Creativity may express itself in one’s dealing with children, in making love, in carrying on a business, in formulating physical theory, in painting a picture.
– Jerome Bruner –
When you have an important message to communicate, always ask these three questions:
- Does it get the information across clearly and accurately? (Business level)
- How does it make the receiver feel? (Human level)
- Does it surprise the receiver? (Creative communication)
© Barbara Glanz Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Barbara Glanz Biography
A member of the prestigious Speaker Hall of Fame and one of fewer than 700 Certified Speaking Professionals worldwide, Barbara Glanz, CSP, CPAE, works with organizations to improve morale, retention and service and with people who want to rediscover the joy in their work and in their lives. She is the first speaker on record to have spoken on all 7 continents and in all 50 states. Known as "the business speaker who speaks to your heart as well as to your head," Barbara is the author of twelve books including The Simple Truths of Service Inspired by Johnny the Bagger®, CARE Packages for the Workplace, and 180 Ways to Spread Contagious Enthusiasm™. Voted "best keynote presenter you have heard or used" by Meetings & Conventions Magazine, Barbara uses her Master’s degree in Adult Learning to design programs that cause behavior change. She lives and breathes her personal motto: “Spreading Contagious Enthusiasm™” and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and www.barbaraglanz.com.