Great product managers must interact with people across the organization and possess the ability to influence stakeholders at all levels, including the very top of the company. Further, they are skilled in developing rapport with customers to gain deep insights into their problems and what they value. All of this requires effective communication and learning how to communicate both effectively and efficiently is what my guest, Curtis Fletcher, and I discuss in this interview.
Curtis has been a product manager at Oracle, a Customer Experience expert for several organizations, a CTO, and has served in other leadership roles. Today he coaches executives and their management teams to be more effective communicators and presenters.
I met Curtis at the SCORRE conference, which is all about becoming a better speaker. He was my coach for the 3 day experience. Improving my speaking was on my personal development list this year because I want this podcast to offer you even more value, which means I need to become a better communicator.
To this end, there are a number of things I have done already. Andrew Warner, founder of Mixergy, has a great course I took for interviewing people. Alex Blumberg, the creator of the StartUp podcast, formerly the producer of This American Life at NPR, held a two day interview course that I found insightful. But now it was time to work on my actual communication clarity, so off to SCORRE I went.
In this interview, Curtis and I discuss three parts of a simple framework that will help focus your communications and be more effective.
Practices and Ideas for Product Managers, Developers, and Innovators
Summary of questions discussed:
- What is the purpose of SCORRE and how did it come about? Ken Davis created the SCORRE communication system and the SCORRE conference. He is a bit of a preacher, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur, but primarily he has made his living as a comedian. He recognized that he had the ability to captivate an audience and that he could share his method to others. SCORRE was created to teach communicating with more focus and clarity. (One of my personal observations from attending the SCORRE conference was the number of attendees that recognized they were presenters who could entertain audiences but who were not effective in delivering a message their audience could remember. SCORRE teaches both how to captivate attention and communicate in a way that audiences remember your key points.)
- What are the two types of presentations a person can give? All presentations or speeches can only accomplish one of two things – you’re either trying to train or trying to persuade your audience. There are no other types of presentations. When you realize your purpose is only one or the other of these, it shapes how you think about and design your presentations. The core question is what you want your audience to do – are you training them to do something or are you persuading them to take some action?
- SCORRE is an acronym – what does it stand for? The details of the system are in the book titled The Secrets of Dynamic Communication (see link below). We didn’t have time to discuss all of the elements, but they are:
- S = Subject
- C = Central Theme
- O = Objective
- R = Rationale
- R = Resources
- E = Evaluation
- A key lesson I learned from the SCORRE conference is to begin any form of communication by having a clear objective in mind. How is an objective created?
When product managers are asked to speak on a topic, such as the product roadmap or the findings of market research, don’t start preparing what you want to talk about. Instead, first ask what you want the audience to do when the presentation is done. This will be centered around a verb – I want you to buy, I want you to go do, etc. An example of a training-oriented presentation is “We can build the next version of Product XYZ” while an example of a persuasion-oriented presentation is “We should build the next version of Product XYZ.” If the audience already wants to take action, then you are likely preparing a training-oriented presentation. If you first need to convince the audience that action is needed, you are creating a persuasive presentation.
- An objective is supported by rationale. How are rationale chosen?
An objective statement has a specific syntax. For a training presentation, the syntax is of the form “Every __(who)__ can __(subject)__ by __(rationale)__. An example is “Every podcaster can have better sound quality in a podcast by taking five simple steps.” The rationale delivers on the promise of the presentation – in this example, how podcasters can have better sound quality in their podcasts. Steps is a key word and a common rationale that implies a sequential set of actions to perform. Other common forms of rationale are truths, elements, attributes, or findings. The use of this keyword helps your audience remember the key points you’re conveying. An effective presentation has rationale that deliver on the promise created by the objective statement.
- What is the purpose of Resources for effective communication? Resources are used to illustrate the rationale of your presentation – your key points. These can take the forms of examples or jokes that reinforce the rationale and help to make the rationale more memorable. As SCORRE practitioners like to share, resources bring light, color, and clarity to the truth.
- As a bonus to discussion, Curtis also shared how the SCORRE approach can be used to make meetings much more effective.
- Curtis’ LinkedIn profile – best way to connect with Curtis
- Curtis’s personal blog
- Secrets of Dynamics Communication book that explains the SCORRE system
- SCORRE Conference Registration — this is an affiliate link, which means I receive compensation when you register for the conference using this link, but more importantly, you receive the lowest discount available for the conference!
- SCORRE Conference Information
“Whenever I go on a ride, I’m always thinking of what’s wrong with the thing and how it can be improved.” – Walt Disney (I forgot to record this, but Curtis did share the quote)
Listen Now to the Interview
Thank you for being an Everyday Innovator and learning with me from the successes and failures of product innovators, managers, and developers. If you enjoyed the discussion, help out a fellow product manager by sharing it using the social media buttons you see below.