Have you ever had the privilege of sitting through a painful conference presentation after a delicious, heavy catered lunch and slowly drifting off to sleep as the – earnest and well-prepared – presenter carefully reads off his elegant remarks?
You may even have tried to keep up with the slides and “spoken” words, but after a few minutes your brain threw in the towel and decided to let your mind wander on to other topics or give in to the temptation of a little impromptu nap.
Don’t make them read with their ears – Differences between spoken and written language
What makes the typical, read presentation so annoying? Speakers who rattle off prepared remarks while seemingly ignoring the audience’s listening needs are disregarding the simple fact that written words are meant to be read, not heard. Written language differs in several important ways from the spoken word. It is much more dense (or less redundant) than spoken language. When talking normally to friends or colleagues, we typically repeat the same concept a few times, but slightly change the way we express it. This makes our thoughts more accessible to our listeners and allows them to catch up with our train of thought in case they missed something or couldn’t follow our logic. In written business communication on the other hand, such redundancy may come across as sloppy style or poorly edited writing.
In the setting of a verbally delivered conference or business presentation, reading prepared remarks forces the audience to keep up with the dense style of the written word and will have them struggling “to keep up” without the normal fillers and repetition that make human communication work.
Other important differences between written and spoken communication include the level of formality, the type of technical language used, and the length of sentences. Also keep in mind that the reader of a piece of text has the option of pausing, re-reading, and generally consuming the printed word at their own pace. In presentations, none of these “throttles” are available, which can quickly lead to stress and emotional disengagement when the pace exceeds the listener’s ability to process and understand the material.
Lessons for personal branding and your value proposition “tagline”
So, how do these important insights into the differences between written and spoken language apply to personal branding? I’ll provide some more details about effective presentation techniques in another post, but wanted to focus today’s article on applying the lessons of the spoken versus written word to your personal hook, tagline, and value proposition.
Using overly polished, carefully tuned sentences in the context of spoken communication comes across as insincere and sets off alarm bells in the listeners’ heads. They may begin to wonder if your verbal “barrage” is hiding an ulterior motive and if you finely crafted pitch is meant to confuse them rather than communicate effectively.
To be effective, your personal communication,value proposition and hook may need to be tweaked slightly to fully account for the differences in context and delivery. These tweaks consist of fillers, repetition, and other elements normally found in everyday language.Your written tagline as a project manager, for instance, may be short and to the point
“I provide peace of mind to customers and colleagues through outstanding project management” or
“Peace of mind through outstanding project management”
Perfect for an e-mail signature or business card, but you’ll need a slightly more conversational form for use at business mixers or parties. For example:
“You know, what I really love to do is to make sure that I provide peace of mind to my customers and my team by doing an excellent job as a project manager.”
These fillers add a bit of variety to your value proposition and make it much more friendly, approachable, and natural. Delivered in combination with an authentic desire to be of service, you will move towards your goal of being memorable for all the right reasons – in short you will have applied positive personal branding, not slick salesmanship.
Stay tuned for upcoming posts on building your personal brand through outstanding conference and business presentations.
To schedule your free personal branding discovery session, please check the Personal Branding Services page.