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The truth about business communication
You’ve probably dreamed of how your life will change once you reach your professional goals. Even more amazing, imagine all the lives you could impact for good.
Think about your favorite companies, business leaders, and brands. No matter how massive they are today, they all started off once upon a time with an ambitious person or team who imagined how they might share their message with others.
Every business success story is about effective communication.
The topic of business communication is a massive industry. Books, courses, and seminars are regularly created to teach this so-called skill.
But here’s the thing: Business is communication.
If you’re doing business right, you are constantly communicating with people. After years of experience—and thousands of conversations with students, managers, entrepreneurs, and executives—I’ve gone all in on helping people learn how to become better communicators.
I want to help you build and rule your own communication kingdom. So, Communication Kingdom is born.
May today to be the once upon a time in your story, the time right before your career went to the next level because you took your messaging, presenting, and networking skills to the next level.
Communication Kingdom: An origin story
My original idea came in a flash. I’ll create Communication Kingdom because content is king!
I was excited to share my burst of inspiration with my wife, a marketing and public relations executive. She would surely see the genius in my plan to help others gain influence.
“I hate that phrase,” she replied.
“It’s just so tired, this idea that content is king.”
Then she gave me that look that you give a cute little dog after he tries to jump up on the furniture but comes up short. I’m perhaps a bit too familiar with this look.
I should add that the original idea may have included an entire chess game metaphor and an ill-fated allusion to myself as a prince of some kind.
“But I like the idea of a communication kingdom,” she said.
As we talked through the concept, she described how an actual kingdom was much more exciting. I won’t bore you with the full recap, but let’s just say our chat included references to Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones.
Soon, my imagination was off and running once more, this time with a creative framework to organize all the ways I could help people write for, speak with, and connect to their audiences.
Discover More of the Communication Kingdom Realm and Your Business Success Roadmap
King Content is dead
Content is no longer king.
Our information age demands more. Content is everywhere. We’re flooded in it, drowning in the stuff. And there’s so much bad and/or irrelevant content all around us.
Genuinely good content is a rare commodity.
Ol’ King Content is dead, buried in the crypt like the Mad King he became who tried to burn us all out on wildfire… Sorry, there’s one of those annoying Game of Thrones flashbacks.
You will not build your empire of influence without solid communication skills. Your business, career, and ultimate success requires more than piles of hastily created content.
So, here’s the question: Is your communication good or bad?
Be honest with yourself. If communication is a struggle for you, what are you doing to improve these fundamental skills? And if you’re a good communicator already, how can you get even better and take your message and ideas to the next level?
King Communication rules all you do.
A good king builds a wonderful kingdom that people flock towards. You can expect growth and success if you work to improve your communication.
A bad king will tear down everything you hope to build. Is your current content and communication approach destroying your chances at growth, success, and happiness?
Those who understand how to create good, relevant content and then communicate it effectively are going to win.
Ask yourself this question: If my communication ability and efforts are in charge of all I hope to build, is the king good or bad?
Communication is King now. Long live the good King Communication.
The Queen of Communication Kingdom
The king does not rule alone, of course. Every kingdom needs a king and queen, and King Communication co-rules with his queen.
Marketing is Queen when it comes to growing a business, making money, and gaining influence.
Queen Marketing holds so much power because great content and communication means nothing if no one knows about or ever sees it.
I’m fortunate to have a queen in house. Jen is a brilliant marketer. I’m a strong communicator, but I need help, especially when my ideas on how to share my work are less than exceptional. When I toss out bad ideas, she’s capable of giving me that expression you make at a cute puppy that just fell over for no reason.
You know the look, the one that seems to say “Oh, babe, just … no.”
Whether you are a stronger marketer or communicator, you need advisors and allies to vet your work. Jen and I form a tight partnership, but we also rely on others—supporters and critics alike—to test and refine our efforts.
King Communication and Queen Marketing will dictate your success, and you need loyal advisors to keep your efforts on track.
Winning the Triple Crown
In sports like baseball and horse racing, a “triple crown” indicates legendary greatness. Few competitors achieve these lofty levels of dominance.
The crown is one ultimate symbol of royalty, and our monarchs aren’t complete without wearing their own.
The Triple Crowns in Communication Kingdom provide structure to everything we must do to succeed. This isn’t just an afterthought detail. In fact, you can see the Triple Crown nesting in the center of this site’s logo, a keystone visible to all who enter.
So, what do the three points of King Communication’s crown represent? Glad you asked.
- Crafting messages
- Creating presentations
- Speaking publicly
These jewels represent the 3 primary aspects of getting your message out a.k.a. communicated. You can expect to learn a ton about those three topics when you invest time in the articles, videos, courses, books, and podcast episodes of Communication Kingdom.
If you can do all three of those things well, you will win because Triple Crown champions perform at the top of their game.
Queen Marketing wears a glitzy Triple Crown as well.
Here are the three prongs of Queen M’s crown as I see it:
- Relationships or Relationship Marketing (networking comes into play here)
- Content Strategy (content marketing falls under this)
- Amplification (once you have the content and a strategy which includes building relationships then you just amp it up).
Those are some RICH areas to explore.
I’ve laid out a primer on how all these topics tie together in my book Gain Influence Through Communication: How To Connect With Others and Build Meaningful Relationships. I’d love for you to check it out and let me know which aspects stand out the most to you.
All the secret sauce lies in these Triple Crowns. These skills are your key to success no matter who you are, where you operate, or what professional goals you hope to achieve.
Time to build your Communication Kingdom
Believe it or not, there are way more layers to the work we’ll do here. I’m obsessed with these topics and helping people like you earn the success you crave through communication and marketing.
Nothing brings me more joy as a consultant, teacher, and coach than watching someone I’ve worked with succeed with what they’re most passionate about.
I want to help you build and rule your own Communication Kingdom. Here are some potential next steps you might take:
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- Download a free copy of my book Presentation Power-Ups: 43 Ways to Write Better Talks, Impress Your Audience, and Level Up Your Speaking. When you do, you’ll begin receiving extra tips and strategies from me via email (and be able to write me back anytime).
- Learn more about what a Communication Kingdom looks like for you. A good next stop is Create Your Communication Plan: 5 Rules for Defining Your Brand.
- Consider coaching if you’re ready to take your professional development to the next level. Visit my Coaching Page to learn what strategies and skills we could focus on in a customized plan for you, your team, or whatever organization you represent.
Everything starts with direction
For centuries, many travelers looked to the night sky to see the North Star. Polaris has shown bright for millennia, illuminating the Northern Hemisphere with clarity and stability.
Sailors especially could rely on Polaris to determine their latitude. What a comfort to have at least one timeless anchor point during all the obstacles a voyager must face during long journeys.
In my work as a corporate consultant, we often ask organizational leaders to define their North Star. Without at least one clearly defined anchor, people are directionless. And without direction, we are adrift, unable to set priorities.
What about you? What is your North Star?
Entrepreneurs and business professionals need their own personal and professional Polaris. Once established, you can systematically work towards your purpose, passion, and goal(s).
Download a special training guide for free if you’d like to work through this topic is a more structured way. Just click this banner…
The Communication Kingdom Magna Carta
How do you go about creating such a lofty statement of purpose? In this article, I’m going to guide you through some steps to do just that.
We begin with some helpful guideposts I like to think of as the Magna Carta for Communication Kingdom.
You may not be familiar with the Magna Carta if you slept through history classes. No worries or judgment. As a former history professor, I am empowered to absolve you of your schooltime napping. Ego te absolvo, my friend.
Magna Carta simply means “great charter.” In history, this famous document was used in 1215 England to help get an unpopular king back on track.
Like I said in this site’s initial post, your King Communication can be good or bad, and you need the good version to achieve your goals.
Get off on the right foot by adopting these five creeds.
Your Personal Communication Charter
- Know Thyself: If you don’t know yourself, you’ll be a rudderless ship, unable to course correct even when you do clearly see the North Star. Be honest with yourself about your strengths, weaknesses, and motives.
- Know Your Audience: Serve the people! You don’t want an angry mob at your castle gate. Learn about the people you intend to work with. Understand their pain points and how you can help. Please don’t pander. Be sincere. It’s all about them. They are the hero. You are their guide.
- Present Attractive Offerings: Earn trust by showing people how you will help them. Be ready and able to say why your expertise will improve their life and solve their problems. Provide a picture of what their ultimate success will look like.
- Provide Clear Steps: Give your audience a plan. Show them the solid river stones they can step on to get across a rushing current of challenges and distractions. You must have a process for them, broken down into clear, repeatable steps. Help people get from where they are to where they want to go.
- Grant Speedy Successes: In other words, give people quick wins. What is something simple, a small step they can immediately take to bolster their confidence? Step 1 will be so simple that some people will already have it done. Great, they get to check a box and go to step 2.
Make your communication fall in line with these commands, and your kingdom will be off to a great start.
Define your brand
Since you are the hero in my story, I should go first and demonstrate these rules for you.
Goals without purpose and passion don’t mean much when it comes to achieving your greatest ambitions. Hopefully, you already have an idea of what drives you. Clear communication begins with clear thinking, so time invested in defining your “why” is well spent.
I can help you gain clarity if you’re stuck or still developing the full picture and will give you a couple prompts in a moment to help you do just that.
First, you might find it helpful to see this kind of thinking modeled, so I’ll share some of my reasoning for doing the work I do as an example.
Draft a sloppy manifesto
Let’s tackle those first two Magna Carta rules: know yourself and know your audience.
I began with three questions on my way to creating Communication Kingdom:
- What am I good at?
- What do I enjoy learning about?
- What need do people have in connection with the answer to those questions?
One clear, common denominator for me is communication.
Specifically, I love connecting with people. Every interaction is a different challenge but finding those connection points with others is powerful.
From there, I see an easy leap to all the people who struggle to connect with others.
With that idea as a starting point, I wanted to start defining a philosophy. I did some freewriting, just typing words without much thought, to see what might come out of my subconscious. Here’s a taste of what I wrote:
“I believe that we all have an opportunity to create great products and services for the common good. And I’m passionate about communication and how we engage one another. There’s a lack of community and neighborly existence these days, and interpersonal communication is so critical as is civility and inclusiveness. So I see future Leaders and thinkers as people who are trying to share important work, messages, products, services, and more and realize that as they succeed we all flourish, so I want to play a part in helping them along through the gifts that I have, which is first and foremost communication.”
It’s a bit of rambly manifesto talk, but it got me started.
You should try a similar experiment. You can type or handwrite or even record yourself speaking, but just start putting out words as fast as you can about the intersection of what you care about, what you’re good at, and how those things might help people.
Another question to ask yourself here is what do people tend to ask you for help with?
Your draft doesn’t have to be pretty. Just begin. You’ll find seeds of purpose in those words, some of which may even surprise you.
From guiding philosophy to purpose
Onto Magna Carta rule #3: present attractive offerings.
After pondering the above for a while, I realized how what we all really want and need to succeed comes down to influence. The way I figure it, if you have influence, then people are listening to you, which means you have an audience willing to act on what you say.
What if I could offer people ways to become more influential. That would be pretty attractive to many folks.
With all these thoughts floating around my brain, I articulated a decent North Star statement:
My North Star is helping people gain influence for good through communicating better and building meaningful relationships. My hope is that these relationships are profitable in multiple ways.
Could be cleaner, but I was beginning to define and refine a vision.
How might your statement look?
Take a stab at completing this statement for yourself:
I will help people _______ by showing them how to ____________ so that they can __________.
Use whatever phrasing you like, just keep experimenting until you begin to lock in on something true to who you are at your core.
Create a plan
Now you’re cooking with gas. By following the steps before now, you’re setting some lofty lights in the sky for others to see. Next comes the part where you being to imagine how to get them there.
Magna Carta rule #4 is to provide clear steps.
I decided that I was ultimately trying to help people in three areas:
- Messaging: what to say
- Speaking/Presenting: how to say it
- Connecting/Networking: who to say it to
Those are some meaty topics and a good start.
But I needed to systematize them further. What would be an oversimplified way to explain the steps people will take if they trust me as their guide?
Here’s what I came up with at first:
- Step 1: Create powerful messages
- Step 2: Present those messages like a pro
- Step 3: Gain influence with others
Not bad. I could work with this. I was feeling good about obeying the rules of Magna Carta to this point.
Your turn again: Break down everything you could teach into an oversimplified 3-5 step process.
Long journeys and first steps
By the time you reach this point, you should be a long way towards explaining to your target audience what you can help them achieve and why it matters.
The balance of your job, then, becomes teaching how to do it.
You’ll basically spend your career earning trust, influence, and income through teaching the how. But you need to break down the process into something manageable.
We come to our fifth and final commandment. Magna Carta rule #5: grant speedy successes.
From my perspective, this entire article is designed to help you get a couple quick wins. If you’ve been following along and using the simple prompts above, you should already be well on your way to:
- defining your purpose
- clarifying your audience
- determining how you can help them
- dreaming about how your work will improve lives, including your own.
You may already even be outlining the steps one could take to achieve success in your system.
My hope is that I’m helping you take immediate actions that make you feel productive and hopeful. All of those things add up to speedy successes.
So, one last time, back over to you. How might you guide your people to get started? Where should they begin?
You should be able to home in on a good first step or two for others once you draft a North Star statement and outline some high-level steps for people to follow.
Help people get started down a path to success. They’ll appreciate you and begin to trust you more as a trusted guide.
Refine your approach
There are other corollaries to the five commands of the Communication Kingdom Magna Carta. For example:
- Always offer value.
- Aim for excellence not perfection.
- Exceed expectations whenever possible.
Just to name a few…
But the big five drive all our efforts.
- Know Thyself.
- Know Your Audience.
- Present Attractive Offerings.
- Provide Clear Steps.
- Grant Speedy Successes.
Ultimate success equals getting the right message in front of the right person at the right time.
By doing the work outlined in this article, you’ll be ready with the right message (communication) for when you successfully get in front of the right people (marketing).
I’d love to hear what you’re working on!
Cover image: “King John Adds a Digital Signature to the Magna Carta, 1215” by Mike Licht on Flickr (CC BY 2.0)
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Your business success roadmap
What are you hoping to achieve to improve your life? Do you have a message to share with the world? Are you trying to launch a product or advance your career?
You can accomplish your professional goals. The most direct path to your success will come through clear communication.
In the keystone article of this site, I broke down King Communication’s Triple Crown:
- Crafting messages
- Creating presentations
- Speaking publicly
You will succeed to the extent you do those three things well.
Sound overwhelming? Let me repeat… you can do it.
This realm of Communication Kingdom allows us to think of the work ahead as a journey you will take to get the results you desire. It’s a whole thing as you’ll see in a minute.
In our last post, we talked about the steps you will lead others through. If the Magna Carta is about mindset/philosophy and being strategic then this next part is about getting tactical.
How will you keep yourself on track? Glad you asked.
The C.A.S.T.L.E. framework
You can’t have a king and queen without a castle, right?
King Communication and Queen Marketing occupy a very specific royal residence, the fortress of all business success.
There’s a reason for this branding. I present to you Credibility Castle.
Credibility Castle is a marvelous place. It stands for everything you need to remember as you build a successful platform.
Here’s how that acronym flows:
Success comes down to connecting with others through communication. Your audience can be anyone, anywhere, at any time. You reach them by effectively speaking and teaching, but all your work must be based on listening and learning through empathy while educating yourself and others.
Check out the video breakdown if you like.
The Content Crypts
Remember how content used to be king?
I do. Once upon a time, all you had to do was pump out as many words on a blog as you could. Millions of websites featured nothing more than keyword glut designed to fool Google’s crawlers into thinking they were relevant and helpful.
But times have changed. The robots have learned. SkyNet will kill us all!
Okay, we’re not facing Terminators (yet), but the days of bad content winning on the internet are over.
Communication is King now, as you know, and only good content is fit for making your kingdom thrive. Still, that old content tends to stick around, as a reminder of earlier efforts if nothing else.
The Content Crypts lay deep beneath Credibility Castle.
Let all poorly contrived and badly developed content be dead and buried in the crypts below your castle of credibility. How do you know what content to toss down here? If it’s unhelpful, irrelevant, or unclear then bury it.
Remember, crypt and cryptic come from the same origin. Your meaning should never be hidden or cryptic, but obvious and apparent.
That said, some good work may even need to be laid to rest in the Content Crypts.
Some of your past text, audio, and video content may be hallowed. Perhaps you’ve done great work that served its purpose. Celebrate it and update if possible.
Either way, you don’t want to spend too much time down in the crypts admiring, rethinking, and focusing on content whose day is past.
Get into the daylight and create new stuff always.
Other landmarks on your business success journey
The C.A.S.T.L.E. framework anchors everything we do as communicators. I did promise a roadmap, however, so let’s get going.
I’ve thought a lot about Communication Kingdom now for years. Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate ideas. Metaphors also work.
For example, you can’t get in and out of Credibility Castle without the communication drawbridge. But that’s just the beginning.
Consider the following landmarks a way to fortify a successful approach in your mind as you pursue professional success.
Mount Message is the Everest of Communication Kingdom.
You should be able to see Mt. Message from anywhere in your kingdom. This feature stands out above all to anyone who looks in your direction.
For some, Mt. Message is a product or solution or both. For some, the peak of your work is an idea or ideal or movement.
Above all, Mt. Message is always your brand. You may not think of yourself as a brand, but you are one. People associate certain traits, values, interests, and ideas with who you are. No matter what. The best we can do is try to define those for others.
Plant your flag here and stand boldly for something. Appear. Stick out. Be conspicuous.
What do you represent? What do you stand for?
Do the work to create a clear identity people can see, respond to, and move toward.
The Presentation Peaks
You didn’t think people could just easily skip right to the face of your brand, did you?
Mount Message is the pinnacle of the Presentation Peaks. Your job is to lead people there, through the (sometimes perilous) Presentation Peaks.
A mountain range must be navigated expertly. Your audience relies on you to guide them safely through whatever obstacles stand in their way. Be their success Sherpa!
Beware those obstacles, like the Caves of Confusion. Oh man, are these a constant threat. Fail to light a path and lead the way, and your listener will quickly stumble into darkness, perhaps forever.
One minute you can be moving right along, building momentum, but lose focus and he or she will never reach the success awaiting them atop Mt. Message.
The Caves of Confusion aren’t the only potential pitfalls. The higher you ascend, the greater the potential for stormy weather. Communication climates are critical, after all.
Your presentation skills go beyond how you deliver information to others. The way you appear, speak, and show up in every situation defines your brand. Every public facing moment matters.
The Sea of Speaking
So far, we’ve covered two-thirds of the Triple Crown: Crafting messages (Mt. Message) and Creating presentations (Presentation Peaks).
Speaking publicly is the last jewel of the Triple Crown, and we come to the Sea of Speaking.
No way around it, you will be required to speak with many people in many situations and settings if you hope to achieve business success.
Speaking with confidence is how you will bring the people in, wave after wave. You may develop a sinking feeling at times or even feel like you’re drowning. Hopefully you’ll map out a clear view of the Strategy Shores.
Do enough presentations and you’ll learn what it’s like to lose focus, get thrown off, and maybe even go completely astray of your purpose.
Seafarers can follow celestial GPS like the North Star as well as prominent landmarks on shore. As a presenter, you will need to keep your North Star clear in your mind. You’ll also need to set your sights on Mt. Message as you interact with others.
You should always have a clear view of your Mt. Message. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself adrift, uncertain where you are or where you are going. Lose your way, and you’ll lose your audience too.
Sometimes the Sea of Speaking pushes you into choppy waters. Experience will help you navigate difficult situations. Watch out for dangerous undertows of unhelpful people and poorly organized events. (By the way, your “ship” is critical to your success. We’ll cover that soon).
A well-structured presentation and outline is like a well lit shoreline for any speaker. Follow it to your listener’s delight.
Finally, stay in your lane. Be authentic and deliver the expertise you’re immersed in. To put it in maritime terms, don’t go beyond your depth bucko, lest your chances at success sink down to Davy Jones’ Locker.
The Isle of Influence
Your goal is to build influence and create momentum that makes other people eager to work with you.
Islands are exclusive, and everyone knows about them. The Isle of Influence in Communication Kingdom symbolizes the kind of influential environment you should strive to build.
Create such popular destinations in your kingdom that people line up to learn from and work with you.
Where will your roadmap take you?
I hope you’re better able to visualize the journey you’ll take as someone who communicates yourself to the levels of business success you’re after.
Remember the Triple Crown:
- Craft compelling messages, which includes establishing a clear identity and brand. Plant your flag on Mt. Message for all to see.
- Create effective presentations that demonstrate your expertise and help guide others through the Presentation Peaks.
- Speak often publicly, acting with confidence as you navigate the Sea of Speaking to gain influence with others.
Along the way, be sure to trade in shallow content for deep and meaningful communication. The C.A.S.T.L.E. framework should keep you on track.
There are many other places to focus on as you build your Communication Kingdom, such as Networking Forest, Commerce Cove, and the Cliffs of Crucial Conversation to name a few. We’ll come to those in time.
For now, make your focus simple.
Be an expert. Be a guide. Gain influence. You can do it like no one else can.
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Mind the communication gaps
There are gaps everywhere. You can find gaps in forests, mountains, knowledge, traffic, teeth, and even (metaphorically) in our own lives.
And you certainly have experienced communication gaps.
Gaps can represent tremendous opportunity or terrifying threat. For early American settlers, a gap discovered in treacherous hills sometimes led to life, an escape from dehydration, starvation, and danger. Then again, a gap in a makeshift shelter or fort might have doomed those same pioneers.
Gaps are a part of life. When it comes to understanding each other, gaps are what hold us back. You need someone to know something. They don’t understand yet. How will you close those communication gaps and accomplish what you need to achieve?
Communication is the answer, of course.
We figure this out the second we arrive in the world screaming for comfort and sustenance. The rest of our days are filled with using communication to overcome gaps. These spaces between us and what we want or need never go away. A message sender knows something, and their intended recipient(s) don’t know the something yet.
Communication is a bridge
Life is an ongoing series of communication, and communication is a bridge.
Actually, in this kingdom, communication is a drawbridge.
How do you define communication gaps? Think of it like this…
We stand on one side with all the information we want our audience to know, such as:
- How to do something.
- Who we are.
- How fabulous our products and services are.
We build one bridge after the next in a never-ending series of communication construction projects.
The C.A.S.T.L.E. framework is all about building bridges. Makes sense, since everything starts with C for Connection.
Each brick in our bridge is a symbol. Over thousands of years of history, we have assigned meaning to sounds like letters and words, and we pick through our quarry of knowledge for the best brick in our stash.
Sometimes we can assemble these bridges quickly. On good days, we might even have entire prefabricated structures already stuck together with the mortar of nonverbal brilliance and some rebar shaped by clear concepts.
If you’re lucky, the person or people on the other side of the understanding gap want to hear from and understand you. In such cases, they’ll be on the other side digging through their own batch of symbolic bricks. Every time they set another section in place, you get that much closer to connecting without having to do all the work.
You do need a strong foundation, of course, and finding or establishing shared experiences creates a great base to build upon.
On the other hand, you might be trying to close communication gaps with folks who aren’t even moving towards you. If you’re an entrepreneurial type, they might not even know you exist.
Getting folks to approach and begin peering across the gap to you and all your bricks, well, that’s marketing. (It’s important to be properly positioned before you start broadcasting into the open wilderness).
Take Time To Do It Right
For each interaction you get to have with a prospect or partner, remember that bridges aren’t always built overnight.
Communicating well and connecting with others are processes that may happen all of a sudden or over a long period of time. The key is to be aware of the communication gaps between you and your intended audience.
The more you work to build communication bridges between yourself and them, the faster you’ll get at assembling the connective bits. For every weak stone and faulty bridge that crumbles, you are still learning, improving, and refining your ability to connect with others.