How To Sell Yourself

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Introduction 11

The keyboard, monitor, e-mail, fax, modem, and recording
are in. The voice is out. So when we do communicate by mouth, it
often comes out exactly like “small talk.”

  • “Hi.”

  • “How ya doin’?”

  • “Nice to see you.”

  • “What’s new.”

  • “I saw Joe yesterday.”

  • “Right.”

  • “Uh huh.”

It all sounds like the typical greeting on an elevator first thing
in the morning. I call it “the non-greeting greeting.”

The lack of animation that has snuck into “small talk” now
dominates the world of spoken communication. And our role
models offer little or no help. Pay attention to the way the politi-
cian or the CEO delivers a speech. The way the correspondent
reads the news on television. The way the “expert” analyzes in the
public forum. Or worst of all, the way the movie star delivers
lines. If you pay attention, you’ll notice how little color, enthusi-
asm, or vividness are communicated. It all sounds exactly like
“small talk.” A keyboard kind of dullness has taken over the whole
world of communication. It’s not unusual that when a TV reporter
says, “Three thousand people are missing in the flood,” the words
come out exactly as though they were, “I had a rotten cup of cof-
fee on my way to work.” Monotony reigns supreme.

A presidential radio address is a big snore.
The weatherperson speed-reads copy and may as well be re-
citing the phone book.

I’ve been at more than one meeting and heard corporate CEOs
say, “We’re delighted with the results this year,” and it came out
exactly as if they’d said, “I’m having a serious digestive problem
this morning.”

So why are we bothering to speak? What are we trying to say
and why can’t we say it right? How can we get our audience to pay
attention and take away the message we’re trying to deliver? After
all, if we can’t do it right, why bother?

To answer these questions let’s go back to the first sentence of
this book, to my definition of communication. “Communication is

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