With the Holidays upon us AND my 150th Monthly Memo here, my thoughts turn to all I am thankful for and all I have learned over the last 15 years. If I can confer the key lessons for this 150th Memo I can end the year on the right note, so here goes.

20+ years as a news reporter: While I have always appreciated my previous career, I now know how much of an impact it has had on my work as a speaker and consultant. Asking questions, thinking on my feet, seeing people on their very best day or perhaps on their very worst day and learning more about the world around me was huge. It kept teaching me for those 20+ years. I couldn’t have had better preparation for my client work.

Listening: The number one skill for any good reporter or consultant is the ability to listen. I would say it is the most important communication skill in existence. That probably sounds funny – coming from a guy who does a lot of speaking. Remember this – before any of us can ever be effective as speakers, we need to spend a lot of time listening.

Addressing the Elephant in the Room: If there is another consistent piece of advice I offer it is to get any uncomfortable topic out on the table. Get the tough stuff addressed right away and then everyone can exhale and move on!

Smile: From the last chapter of my book to regular conversations with leaders across the globe, the topic nearly always comes up. “Can you smile a little more when you say that?” It sounds so basic, but you’ll be a better leader if, where appropriate, you offer that simple piece of advice.

The book: One of the most surprising and satisfying experiences of the last 15 years has been writing and speaking about “There’s Not an App for That!” One never knows how a book will be received. Will people get it? Is there meaningful information here? When the book won a national book award I could not have been more pleased. If you think this communication stuff is important in your business, please pick up a copy. You can do so at www.NoAppBook.com. Order it through this address and I will be sure to sign it if you’d like. It is 174 pages of quick reading advice on how to tell your story in business and is a succinct overview of all I have learned in my last 40 years as a communicator.

My extended family: Finally, I must acknowledge all I have learned from my clients and family. For our purposes here, I’ll call them my extended family because I appreciate my business relationships and I consider them part of the extended family. My immediate family has been a source of inspiration and my client family has taught me so much I cannot thank all of you enough. Here’s to a terrific Holiday season and a great 2018 to come!

Interested in starting or expanding a speaking business? A woman I know is retiring and wants to sell her fully branded speaking business. Contact me directly for more details.

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Cary Pfeffer is the founder of ClearComm Consulting, www.clear-comm.net, a Phoenix, AZ-based communications consulting firm which is helping people tell their story. He works with clients to make the most of their media and live audience communication. Email him at: cary@clear-comm.net.

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