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    107. Think Faster, Talk Smarter: How to Speak Successfully When You're Put on the Spot

    enSeptember 19, 2023

    Podcast Summary

    • Improving Spontaneous Speaking SkillsMatt Abrahams' six-step methodology for effective spontaneous speaking: breathe, clarify, organize, use clear language, speak confidently, and practice regularly.

      Effective communication, especially in a non-native language, requires confidence and preparation. Matt Abrahams, the host of Think Fast, Talk Smart podcast and author of the upcoming book "Think Faster, Talk Smarter," shares his personal experiences and research on the importance of spontaneous speaking. He defines it as the ability to respond in the moment, whether it's answering a question, giving feedback, or engaging in small talk. Matt became interested in this topic after observing bright students struggling with cold call situations at Stanford Graduate School of Business. To help others improve their spontaneous speaking skills, he developed a six-step methodology: 1) Breathe and pause to collect your thoughts, 2) Clarify the question or topic, 3) Organize your thoughts into a logical sequence, 4) Use clear and concise language, 5) Speak confidently and authentically, and 6) Practice regularly. By following these steps, individuals can become more confident and successful communicators in any situation. Matt's new webpage at faster smarter dot I o slash e l l offers practical advice, episode-specific ELL content, and links to his favorite English language learning podcasts to help non-native English speakers feel less anxious and more authentic in their communication.

    • Shift from perfection to connectionAim for connection, not perfection, in communication to improve effectiveness and build stronger relationships

      Effective communication, especially in spontaneous situations, requires a shift in mindset from striving for perfection to focusing on connection. According to the expert, when we aim for perfection, we can become overly self-critical and our cognitive bandwidth is diminished, making it harder to communicate effectively. Instead, we should aim to connect with our audience and deliver messages that are relevant to them. Additionally, the expert suggests seeing spontaneous speaking situations as opportunities rather than threats. By adopting a more relaxed and open attitude, we can perform better and build stronger connections with others. This mindset shift can lead to improved communication and increased confidence in various professional and personal contexts.

    • Reframing challenges as opportunitiesInstead of seeing harsh feedback or misunderstandings as threats, reframe them as opportunities for connection and growth. Use a clear and concise pitching structure to effectively communicate value.

      Our mindset plays a significant role in how we communicate and respond to challenges. Instead of seeing harsh feedback or misunderstandings as threats, we can reframe them as opportunities for connection and growth. This shift in perspective can help us stay calm and focused, even in difficult situations. Another helpful tip is to adopt a clear and concise pitching structure when presenting ideas or products. By using sentence starters like "What if you could," we can effectively communicate the value of what we're offering in a clear and engaging way. Overall, adopting a growth mindset and focusing on connection and clarity in our communication can lead to more successful and productive interactions.

    • Effective Communication: Be Confident, Persuasive, and CreativeImprove communication by being confident, persuasive, paraphrasing, asking clarifying questions, eliminating extraneous words, and practicing presence in the martial arts.

      Effective communication skills are essential for achieving personal and professional goals. This can be achieved by being more confident, persuasive, and creative in your communication. A critical tool in communication is paraphrasing and asking clarifying questions to help focus and make messages relevant to your audience. Focusing on eliminating extraneous words and jargon is also important, especially in spontaneous speaking. The martial arts provide a great analogy for communication, teaching us to be present, respond to what's happening, and consider the impact of our actions on others and the environment. By practicing these skills, we can improve our communication and build a stronger community.

    • The Impact of Personal Experiences on Communication SkillsPersonal experiences, like practicing martial arts, can significantly shape our communication skills and broaden our horizons.

      Our personal experiences, such as practicing martial arts, can significantly impact our communication skills and shape who we are in the world. This was exemplified by a story shared by Matt, who, at the age of 14, gave a speech on martial arts at a tournament and accidentally ripped his pants during the presentation. This embarrassing moment led Matt to become fascinated with the impact of anxiety on communication, inspiring him to study it further. The martial arts not only influenced Matt's communication abilities but also exposed him to new experiences and opportunities. This example highlights the importance of finding a physical practice that can inform and enhance our daily interactions. Matt also expressed his gratitude for being part of the podcast team and completing 100 episodes, emphasizing the importance of teamwork and collaboration in achieving success.

    • The importance of connection in podcastingMaintain eye contact to foster stronger connections during podcast conversations, and use resources to improve listening skills for English language learners.

      The connection with listeners is the most valuable aspect of hosting a podcast for the speaker. This connection extends beyond just the content of the podcast, but also creates a larger community where people can help and learn from each other. The speaker expressed deep gratitude for this experience and the opportunity to learn from guests and audience members. During the interview, the speaker was asked to provide feedback on how to be a better podcast host. Using the "what, so what, now what" structure, the feedback suggested that maintaining eye contact during conversations can help foster a stronger connection and make it easier for guests to open up. Additionally, the speaker introduced a new resource for English language learners to improve their listening skills and enjoy the podcast more by learning specific idioms and phrasing. Lastly, the speaker shared that when addressing the entire Stanford GSB community, they would emphasize the importance of continuous learning and growth, as well as the value of the podcast in bringing people together.

    • Creating Meaningful Connections through Toasting and Tribute-GivingAuthenticity and appreciation are key elements in effective toasting and tribute-giving. Share personal stories and express gratitude to create meaningful connections and make a positive impact.

      Effective toasting and tribute-giving involves several key elements. Matt, the host of Stanford Graduate School of Business's Think Fast, Talk Smart podcast, shares his experience of bringing the podcast to life and expresses gratitude to the audience for their support. He emphasizes the importance of connection and sharing personal anecdotes. Jenny, a guest on the podcast, acknowledges Matt's passion for communication and thanks him for his guidance. They celebrate the podcast's 100th episode and Matt's new book. The conversation underscores the importance of authenticity and appreciation in public speaking. The team behind the podcast encourages listeners to help spread the word and join their communities on social media. By sharing personal stories and expressing gratitude, we can create meaningful connections and make a positive impact on others.

    Recent Episodes from Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques

    143. Adopting a VC Mindset: How to Achieve More by Thinking, and Communicating, Like a Venture Capitalist

    143. Adopting a VC Mindset: How to Achieve More by Thinking, and Communicating, Like a Venture Capitalist

    In choosing who to date, what job to pursue, or how to invest our money, most people are just looking for a reason to move forward. But according to Professor Ilya Strebulaev, we should be looking for something else: a reason to bail.

    "The smartest venture capitalists ask a very different question from what most of us ask," says Strebulaev. Instead of asking “‘Why should we invest?’, venture capitalists approach every new opportunity with [the] question: Why should we not proceed?” This contrarian mindset is at the heart of Strebulaev's new book The Venture Mindset, which reveals how the strategies of top VCs can help anyone make sharper decisions. 

    In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, Strebulaev joins host Matt Abrahams to discuss how the venture mindset can help anyone — investor or not — weigh alternatives, make decisions, and move forward without looking back.


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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Host Matt Abrahams introduces guest Ilya Strebulaev, founder of the GSB's Venture Capital Initiative and professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business.

    (00:00:53) The Venture Mindset

    Insights into the venture mindset as a new mental model for making smarter, quicker decisions.

    (00:02:22) Embracing Failure

    How venture capitalists embrace and learn from failure to achieve success.

    (00:05:21) Decision-Making in Venture Capital

    A unique approach to decision making based on what successful venture capitalists do.

    (00:07:34) Applying Venture Principles in Personal and Professional Life

    Venture mindset principles that can help individuals in job transitions and personal growth.

    (00:10:05) Lessons from Teaching Venture Capital

    Ilya outlines key takeaways he hopes his students learn from his class, including thinking differently and networking effectively.

    (00:13:25) Passionate Communication

    Using descriptive language to engage others, including mixing familiar terms with unique ones to enhance communication about passions

    (00:15:29) The Final Three Questions

    Ilya shares how he has grown from writing his book, a communicator he admires, and three ingredients for successful communication.

    (00:18:59) Conclusion


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    142. Power and Persuasion: Live Insights from Stanford Experts

    142. Power and Persuasion: Live Insights from Stanford Experts

    A special live edition from the Me2We event at Stanford, where strategic communications expert and podcast host Matt Abrahams joins four distinguished faculty members from Stanford Graduate School of Business:


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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Producer Jenny Luna and host Matt Abrahams introduce a live episode featuring four Stanford GSB faculty members.

    (00:01:40) Navigating Conflicts and Negotiations in Diverse Settings

    Michelle Gelfand discusses managing conflicts and negotiations in broader societal and cultural contexts.

    (00:04:51) Understanding and Managing Diversity

    Brian Lowery introduces the Stanford Institute on Race and outlines strategies for leaders to foster inclusivity and manage diverse workforces.

    (00:07:57) Dynamics of Power and Influence

    Deborah Gruenfeld shares the implications of power dynamics and how they shift from virtual to in-person interactions.

    (00:14:04) Persuasion and Effective Communication

    Zakary Tormala gives insight into the use of pronouns in persuasive communication and the impact of language in shaping audience engagement.

    (00:18:44) Acting with Power in Interactions

    Deborah Gruenfeld discusses her ongoing research on how power dynamics influence investor decisions in startup teams.

    (00:20:47) The Pursuit of Meaningfulness

    Brian Lowery talks about his current focus on what makes life meaningful.

    (00:24:14) Cultural Tightness and Looseness

    Michelle Gelfand explains her research on how cultures manage norms and rules, and the concept of "tight" and "loose" cultures.

    (00:28:52) Persuasive Communication

    Zakary Tormala shares insights from his latest research on framing effects in communication.

    (00:32:13) Participant Reflections

    A Stanford LEAD participant shares experiences from Brian Lowery's class, emphasizing the importance of perspective-taking and trust in leadership.

    (00:33:15) Conclusion


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    141. An Invitation for Innovation: Why Creativity Is Found, Not Forced

    141. An Invitation for Innovation: Why Creativity Is Found, Not Forced

    So you want to lead your team toward innovation. Does that require that you know where you’re going? Not according to Linda Hill.

    Hill is a professor of business administration at Harvard Business School whose research focuses on leadership and how organizations achieve innovation. When it comes to generating breakthrough ideas, Hill says it’s less about a creative vision and more about stepping into the unknown. “Innovation [is] not about an individual coming up with a new idea,” she says. “Instead, innovation is the result of the collaboration of people with diverse expertise and diverse perspectives coming together, being able to collaborate, being able to experiment together and learn.”

    In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, Hill and host Matt Abrahams discuss how leaders can foster cultures and environments where innovation thrives — where teams use communication and collaboration to “co-create the future.”


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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Host Matt Abrahams introduces guest Linda Hill, an expert in leadership development and innovation from Harvard Business School.

    (00:01:10) Leading for Innovation vs. Leading for Change

    Fundamental differences between leading for innovation and for change, and the unique challenges required for innovation.

    (00:02:53) Creating a Culture of Innovation

    The essential components of a culture that promotes innovation, with focus on communication and collaboration.

    (00:06:21) The Role of Shared Values and Purpose in Innovation

    Shared values, and the distinction between vision and purpose within innovative organizations.

    (00:09:43) Communication's Impact on Innovation

    How effective communication facilitates innovation, including strategies for engaging diverse teams and the significance of storytelling.

    (00:14:30) Conflict and Creativity in Collaborative Environments

    The value of conflict in innovation, and how managing disagreements and diverse viewpoints can lead to more creative solutions.

    (00:16:06) The Final Three Questions

    Linda Hill shares practices to foster collaboration with others, a communicator she admires, and her ingredients for successful communication.

    (00:19:54) Conclusion


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    140. Best of: How to Handle a Skeptical Audience

    140. Best of: How to Handle a Skeptical Audience

    Preparing to speak in front of a skeptical audience is more than thinking about objections beforehand – there are specific techniques you can use to respond to these challenging situations without sounding defensive, evasive, or dismissive. Here, we offer a few key tips for how to handle skepticism with aplomb.

    In this podcast, host Matt Abrahams and Stanford GSB lecturer Burt Alper share how to prepare for these challenges from your audience and discuss the importance of tactics like acknowledging audience input, reframing responses, and how to remain cool, collected, and credible.


    Episode Reference Links:

    • Burt Alper: Website
    • Stanford Profile: Website 
    • Ep.102 Create a Presence: How to Communicate in a Way Others Can Feel: WebsiteYouTube 
    • Ep.70 Keep ’Em Coming: Why Your First Ideas Aren’t Always the Best: Website / YouTube 
    • Original Episode - Ep.5 From Monologue to Dialogue: How to Handle a Skeptical Audience: Website / YouTube


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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Host Matt Abrahams introduces the episode and guest Burt Alper, a fellow strategic communication lecturer at Stanford GSB

    (00:00:55) Handling Direct Objections

    Confronting direct objections during presentations, particularly in professional settings like executive meetings or at the GSB.

    (00:02:37) Preparation for Objections

    The importance of preparation when anticipating objections and strategies for foreseeing potential pushbacks.

    (00:03:50) Emotional vs. Logical Objections

    Distinctions between emotional and logical objections and how these types of objections manifest in conversations.

    (00:06:09) The Power of Reframing

    The technique of reframing in objection handling and altering the context of a conversation to address concerns without conceding.

    (00:08:17) The Role of Paraphrasing

    Paraphrasing as a critical skill for clarifying and addressing objections, with the benefits of accurately restating concerns to ensure mutual understanding.

    (00:12:11) The Final Three Questions

    Burt Alper shares the best communication advice he’s received, a communicator he admires, and his ingredients for successful communication.

    (00:14:55) Conclusion


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    139. Lose Yourself: The Secret to Finding Flow and Being Fully Present

    139. Lose Yourself: The Secret to Finding Flow and Being Fully Present

    Whether you're looking to boost your productivity, find more joy in your work, or simply be more present in the moment, you need flow — and research by Assistant Professor David Melnikoff could help you find it.

    Melnikoff investigates how we pursue our goals, and how flow — the state of being totally immersed and engaged in what we’re doing — can help us achieve them. According to him, flow isn’t necessarily about enjoying a task or activity for its own sake, but more about the process of discovery that unfolds as we take action in the face of uncertainty. “The source of flow is engaging in an activity that allows you to reduce uncertainty about your future, engaging in actions that reduce possible future outcomes, or ideally, eliminate all possible future outcomes except for one,” he says. With each action that we take, the path before us narrows, leading us more directly to the goal that we’ve set.

    In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, Melnikoff shares why uncertainty presents us with the opportunity to step into the flow state, to experience more focus and engagement, and to supercharge our goal pursuit and performance

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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Host Matt Abraham welcomes guest David Melnikoff, an assistant professor of organizational behavior at Stanford GSB and an expert on flow and goal achievement.

    (00:00:40) Understanding Flow and Its Benefits

    The definition of flow and the reversal of the usual dynamic of goal pursuit.

    (00:02:20) Achieving and Maintaining Flow

    Misconceptions about achieving flow and the role of reducing uncertainty in engaging activities. 

    (00:06:22) Flow in Business and Leadership

    Applying flow principles to business, emphasizing the structuring of tasks and goals to induce flow through uncertainty reduction. 

    (00:08:39) Personal Applications of Flow for Goal Pursuit

    How to utilize flow principles to set and achieve goals with advice on framing tasks to maximize uncertainty and flow. 

    (00:11:03) Collaborative Flow and Communication

    The potential for shared flow experiences in collaborative settings and the role of communication in facilitating flow.

    (00:13:05) Goal Setting and Achievement Advice

    Advice on goal setting, advocating for goals with a degree of uncertainty to enhance engagement and likelihood of entering a flow state.

    (00:14:43) The Final Three Questions

    David Melnikoff shares how he invites flow into his life, a communicator he admires, and his recipe for communication.

    (00:16:17) Conclusion


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    138. Speak Your Truth: Why Authenticity Leads to Better Communication

    138. Speak Your Truth: Why Authenticity Leads to Better Communication

    From the way you communicate, to the way build your life and career, Graham Weaver, MBA ’99, says it’s about “giving yourself permission to fully be yourself. You can never go wrong when you’re saying your truth.”

    Weaver is a lecturer in management, a GSB alum, and the founder and a partner of Alpine Investors. He stresses the importance of direct communication, highlighting how avoiding it can lead to wasted time, energy, and even financial losses. Reflecting on his own experiences in private equity, Weaver admits to struggling with being conflict-averse and not speaking his truth directly, which resulted in getting into bad deals and big losses for his company. “People think that by being indirect, they’re being kind, but all they're doing is creating confusion,” he says. “Clarity is compassionate. Even if it's not what they want to hear, the more direct and clear you can be, the more compassionate that is for the other person.”

    In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, Weaver and host Matt Abrahams explore how being true to oneself not only fosters personal fulfillment but also enables us to show up better for others. Authenticity and self-belief lay the foundation for effective communication, leadership, and ultimately, success.

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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Matt Abrahams introduces guest Graham Weaver, a Stanford alum and lecturer in management at GSB.

    (00:0:43) Interpersonal and Intrapersonal Skills in Business

    How skills like understanding personal dreams and overcoming limiting beliefs play a critical role in business success.

    (00:04:58) Living an Asymmetrical Life

    Living an asymmetrical life, including the importance of doing hard things, pursuing your passions, committing long-term, and writing your own story.

    (00:10:10) Lessons from Taylor Swift

    Business and personal inspiration from Taylor Swift's response to professional setbacks, highlighting her work ethic and resilience.

    (00:13:04) Personal Growth and Enlightenment

    Graham’s journey towards enlightenment and the practices he adopts to improve his personal and professional life.

    (00:16:08) The Final Three Questions

    Graham shares what differentiates an exceptional from average leader, a communicator he admires and his ingredients for successful communication.

    (00:21:05) Conclusion


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    137. When Words Aren’t Enough: How to Excel at Nonverbal Communication

    137. When Words Aren’t Enough: How to Excel at Nonverbal Communication

    If communication is like painting, words are the primary colors. But to convey deeper meaning, we need a broader color palette, which Dana Carney says requires the mastery of nonverbal communication.

    We often focus on the words that we say when honing our communication, but according to Carney, there are many instances “where nonverbals start to be more meaningful than verbals.” A professor at Berkeley’s Haas School of Business and the George Quist Chair in Business Ethics, Carney researches the nonverbal ways in which we communicate our biases, our preferences, our power, and our status.

    As Carney explores in her forthcoming book, The Five Nonverbal Rules of Power, there are several key areas of nonverbal behavior that we need to grasp in order to fully tap our potential as communicators. In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, she and host Matt Abrahams discuss how to read the nonverbal communication of others — and how to gain control of the nonverbals we express to the world.

    Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast produced by Stanford Graduate School of Business. Each episode provides concrete, easy-to-implement tools and techniques to help you hone and enhance your communication skills.

    Episode Reference Links:

    • Dana Carney: Website
    • Ep.12 - It’s Not What You Say, It’s How You Say It: How to Communicate Power WebsiteYouTube 
    • Ep.16 - How to Craft Your Body Language When Confronting Objections Website / YouTube 

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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Matt Abrahams introduces guest Dana Carney, an expert in nonverbal communication.

    (00:01:12) Understanding Nonverbal Communication

    Foundational aspects of nonverbal communication, dividing it into perception and expression, and emphasizing the importance of facial expressions and body language.

    (00:02:11) The Nonverbal Rules of Power

    How nonverbal communication influences perceptions of power and status and the concept of the "five nonverbal rules of power".

    (00:04:37) Cultural and Contextual Variations

    The impact of culture and context on nonverbal cues, discussing how cultural differences can alter the interpretation of behaviors such as eye contact and proximity.

    (00:08:10) The Balance Between Verbal and Nonverbal Communication

    Verbal versus nonverbal communication and its significance especially in contexts where honesty or bias might be in question.

    (00:09:15) Achieving Communication Goals Through Nonverbals

    How understanding nonverbal cues can help individuals achieve specific social interaction goals.

    (0012:51) Enhancing Nonverbal Communication Skills

    Practical advice for becoming more aware of one's nonverbal communication, including self-observation and seeking feedback from others.

    (00:16:13) The Final Three Questions

    Dana shares a nonverbal behavior that demonstrates confidence, a communicator she admires, and her recipe for successful communication.

    (00:21:09) Conclusion


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    136. The Art of Disagreeing Without Conflict: Navigating the Nuance

    136. The Art of Disagreeing Without Conflict: Navigating the Nuance

    Disagreement and conflict may look the same on the surface, but the two concepts are, in fact, very different. According to Julia Minson, knowing how these notions differ is crucial to how you approach them. 

    In this episode of Think Fast Talk Smart, Minson and strategic communication lecturer Matt Abrahams delve into the intricacies of conflict and disagreement. Minson, an associate professor of public policy at the Harvard Kennedy School and Stanford University alumna, also shares her expertise on decision-making and conflict negotiation. Minson emphasizes the need for genuine curiosity and receptiveness in communication to foster productive dialogue.

    Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast produced by Stanford Graduate School of Business. Each episode provides concrete, easy-to-implement tools and techniques to help you hone and enhance your communication skills.

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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Matt introduces guest Julia Minson, who is an expert in decision-making, conflict negotiation, and the psychology of disagreement.

    (00:00:54) Journey into Conflict and Disagreement Research

    Julia gives insight into her background and what led her to research disagreement and conflict.

    (00:01:55) Distinguishing Between Disagreement and Conflict

    The difference between disagreement and conflict, and why understanding this distinction is crucial for effective communication.

    (00:04:12) Strategies for Disagreeing Better

    Practical advice on how to disagree constructively without escalating to conflict, focusing on expressing and acting with curiosity.

    (00:07:05) Demonstrating Curiosity and Conversational Receptiveness

    Tactics for showing curiosity and conversational receptiveness, including using the HEAR acronym to maintain constructive dialogues.

    (00:14:38) Managing Conflict

    Managing and navigating conflict, emphasizing emotional readiness and the importance of choosing battles wisely.

    (00:18:25) The Final Three Questions

    Julia shares personal experiences with conflict and disagreement, a communicator she admires, and her recipe for successful communication.

    (00:22:48) Conclusion

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    135. Best of: The Personal and Professional Power of Emotional Awareness

    135. Best of: The Personal and Professional Power of Emotional Awareness

    Why deep connection with others starts by connecting more deeply with ourselves.

    How are you feeling right now? According to Celine Teoh, we all need to ask ourselves that question more often — and be more precise in how we answer it.

    Teoh is a facilitator of the course Interpersonal Dynamics, one of Stanford Graduate School of Business’s most iconic classes. In her work with students and as a CEO coach, Teoh encourages people to get better acquainted with their feelings. “Feelings are data,” she says. “In the rest of our logical lives, we would never make decisions on bad or highly abstract data. But we’ll do that with feelings.”

    In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart: The Podcast, Teoh and host Matt Abrahams discuss how developing greater emotional awareness can help us achieve more agency and empathy in our personal and professional lives.

    Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast produced by Stanford Graduate School of Business. Each episode provides concrete, easy-to-implement tools and techniques to help you hone and enhance your communication skills.

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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction

    Host Matt Abrahams introduces guest Celine Teoh and the episodes' focus on the value of emotions in communication.

    (00:01:09) Discovering Self Through Interpersonal Dynamics

    Overview of the Interpersonal Dynamics course at Stanford GSB, also known as "touchy feely"

    (00:03:48) Integrating “Touchy Feely” in Logical and Action-Oriented Environments

    Incorporating empathy and emotional connection in organizations that prioritize logic and action.

    (00:05:47) Enhancing Connection and Empathy

    Advice on building connections with others, including the importance of being clear and embracing vulnerability.

    (00:08:36) Managing Conflict with Empathy

    Approaching challenges and conflict at work in a way that maintains and strengthens relationships.

    (00:11:29) Enhancing Empathy, Feedback, and Communication Skills

    Guidance for improving empathy, seeking feedback, and honing communication skills.

    (00:13:52) The Final Three Questions

    Celine Teoh shares the best communication advice she has received, a communicator she admires, and outlines her first three ingredients for successful communication.

    (00:17:07) Conclusion


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    134. How to Chat with Bots: The Secrets to Getting the Information You Need from AI

    134. How to Chat with Bots: The Secrets to Getting the Information You Need from AI

    Leveraging AI to unlock new levels of creativity and communication innovation

    Join Matt Abrahams with creativity and innovation experts Jeremy Utley and Kian Gohar to explore the transformative potential of AI in the realms of creativity and problem-solving.

    If you treat artificial intelligence like an oracle, you’ll likely be disappointed. But if you treat it like a teammate, Utley and Gohar say you’ll be surprised just how helpful a collaborator it can be.

    Utley, an adjunct professor at the Stanford d.school, and Gohar, a bestselling author, keynote speaker, and futurist, have researched how teams can integrate AI into existing workflows to generate more creative ideas and streamline problem-solving. As they’ve found, large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT can be powerful tools for innovation. But without knowing how to implement them, “Most teams leave the vast majority of their innovation potential on the table,” Utley says. In a new white paper, he and Gohar illuminate the path teams can take to use generative AI as a “conversation partner” and transform their brainstorming efforts as a result.

    In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, Utley and Gohar discuss how innovators can stop viewing AI as a magic 8-ball, and start treating it as a companion — one ready to roll up its sleeves and dig deep for new ideas.

    Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast produced by Stanford Graduate School of Business. Each episode provides concrete, easy-to-implement tools and techniques to help you hone and enhance your communication skills.

    Episode Reference Links:


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    Chapters:

    (00:00:00) Introduction to Utley & Gohar

    Matt Abrahams introduces guests Jeremy Utley and Kian Gohar, and their respective books.

    (00:01:02) Motivation Behind the Study on AI's Impact

    AI's impact on creativity and problem-solving, including an experiment involving human ideation with and without AI assistance.

    (00:03:32) Research Findings on AI and Innovation

    Specific practices to effectively use AI in teams for idea generation and the counterintuitive feelings associated with AI-assisted work.

    (00:04:37) The Counterintuitive Nature of AI Assistance

    Why teams that used AI effectively felt worse about their work, and the importance of adjusting work processes to incorporate AI as a collaborative tool.

    (00:07:59) The FIXIT Methodology for AI Collaboration

    The FIXIT methodology, a five-step process to enhance collaboration with AI.

    (00:12:29) Enhancing Conversations with AI

    Improving conversations with AI, including using audio messages for interaction and exploring different large language models for varied inputs.

    (00:17:45) The Final Three Questions

    Jeremy Utley offers a starting point for individuals new to ChatGPT, and Kian Gohar shares two communicators he admires and his three ingredients for successful communication.

    (00:22:57) Conclusion


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    Related Episodes

    108. All In: How Improv Helps You Show Up and Communicate Well

    108. All In: How Improv Helps You Show Up and Communicate Well

    If you’re reading from your notes, you’re going to miss the magic of the moment. That’s why Adam Tobin, Dan Klein, and Patricia Ryan Madsen bring improv techniques to all their communication.

    Communication experts in their respective fields of media, performance, and drama, Tobin, Klein, and Madsen all see the immense power of improv in helping us communicate more freely. As Tobin says, “You do the preparation so that you are expert in the material. And then you let go of the specific delivery of the information in favor of being aware of what's going on now.” Madsen agrees, explaining that we don’t need all the answers, we just need to show up. “Step first,” she says, “then see where you are.”

    In this celebration of the 100th episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, the three guests join host Matt Abrahams to discuss how improv can transform our communication in everything from small talk to work presentations, and help us create space where we feel safe enough to show up as our most authentic selves.

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    121. Building trust and connection: How to lead with vulnerability

    121. Building trust and connection: How to lead with vulnerability

    We have to be vulnerable in order to build trust in our relationships. But as Jacob Morgan says, “Vulnerability for leaders is not the same as it is for everybody else.”

    In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, Morgan shares with host Matt Abrahams his “vulnerable leadership equation” and how leaders can use it to transform the way they interact with others — creating more trust, unlocking people’s potential, and building successful teams and organizations.

    As Morgan explains, owning up to your mistakes and struggles might make you vulnerable, but it doesn’t necessarily make you a leader. In his latest book, Leading with Vulnerability: Unlock Your Greatest Superpower to Transform Yourself, Your Team, and Your Organization, Morgan lays out why leading with vulnerability goes a step further, saying, “Here's what I learned from the mistake that I made [and] steps that I'm going to put into place to make sure this doesn't happen again.”

    Connect:

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    103. Simple Is a Superpower: How to Communicate Any Idea to Any Audience

    103. Simple Is a Superpower: How to Communicate Any Idea to Any Audience

    The best communicators express ideas simply. And to do that, says Carmine Gallo, “you have to connect with people in a language they understand.”

    Gallo is an author, communication coach, and lecturer at the Harvard Graduate School of Design. For him, the cornerstone of good communication is empathizing with an audience enough to truly speak their language. “Think about the audience first,” he says. “If you cannot speak the same language to different stakeholders and adapt the language for those different stakeholders, you’ll never get anything done.”

    On this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, Gallo and host Matt Abrahams discuss how we can simplify our language and weave relevant stories to translate and tailor our communication for our audience.

    For a full transcript of this episode visit the podcast's website.

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    61. Courage, Ambiguity, Belonging and Data: How to Design Your Communication for Success

    61. Courage, Ambiguity, Belonging and Data: How to Design Your Communication for Success

    All communication comes from a place of creativity and creativity is rooted in design. In this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, strategic communications lecturer and podcast host Matt Abrahams interviews four authors from the Stanford d.school. Each conversation challenges convention in how we approach our communication, be it visual, body language, or speech. 

    Listen to this episode to hear more from Ashish Goel, author of Drawing on Courage; Susie Wise, author of Design for Belonging; Carissa Carter, author of The Secret Language of Maps; and Andrea Small, co author of Navigating Ambiguity.


    Show Notes

    Learn more about the d.school, the four authors, and the four guide books.

    Think Fast, Talk Smart Website and Transcripts

    Think Fast, Talk Smart LinkedIn Community

    Matt Abrahams LinkedIn

    Aleta Hayes, senior lecturer, Theater and Performance studies

    Interpersonal Dynamics, Stanford Graduate School of Business

    Think Fast, Talk Smart with Sarah Stein Greenberg: "Ideas & Empathy: How to Design and Communicate with Others in Mind"

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    19. Showing Your Smile From Behind a Mask: How Culture and Emotion Impact Communication

    19. Showing Your Smile From Behind a Mask: How Culture and Emotion Impact Communication

    “In companies, you’re interacting with other people who come from different cultural contexts, and in order to be effective, you have to understand how much of your own communication and other people’s communication is shaped by their cultural ideas and their cultural values.” On this episode of Think Fast, Talk Smart, host Matt Abrahams sits down with Jeanne Tsai, an associate professor of Psychology at Stanford and director of the Culture and Emotion Lab. Jeanne’s research focuses on cultural influences on psychological and social processes related to emotion. Jeanne discusses why wearing a mask is more accepted for some cultures, and seen as prohibiting communication in others. 

    “Communication is just one of the places where you really can see culture at work,” she says. “In cultural contexts that promote these more independent views of the self, the core goal of communication is to express yourself, to express those beliefs, preferences and desires that define who you are.” 

    Think Fast, Talk Smart is a podcast produced by Stanford Graduate School of Business. Each episode provides concrete, easy-to-implement tools and techniques to help you hone and enhance your communication skills.

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