Thought leadership from ISOC trainers, resources from ISOC courses, and articles from the ISOC training library

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Crisis Positioning -- 16 principles that will help any company figure out what to say about a negative event communication crisis communications writing

A company that chooses its words carefully can escape a crisis with its reputation intact – or even improved.

Statistically all companies can expect a reputationally significant crisis roughly every five years. Cyber hacks, employee misconduct, product recalls, supply chain mishaps and a long list of dramas are all waiting around the corner. The good news is this: if you handle the crisis well, not only will you most likely be forgiven, but you may even gain new respect for showing your true colours.

If you need convincing that a crisis can be an opportunity, look at the share prices of companies hit by bad news. Share price is a proxy for public confidence. Studies show that effective communication in the early stages of a crisis predicts long-term reputational impact. All crisis-hit companies take a hit on the markets initially, but those that don’t explain themselves effectively can take years to recover. Those that communicate well catch up much faster in market...

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How To Answer Difficult Questions -- universal strategies from the new science of media training communication media training public speaking soft skills

In Zen Buddhism there’s a useful word meaning “neither yes nor no”. When an acolyte asked a foolish question, the Master could reply “mu”, meaning “I say ‘yes’ but I mean ‘no’ and the actual answer is: unask the question.”

If only we could say “mu” in modern life! Sadly, it only works on Buddhist monks, and not on children asking if Santa Claus is real. Happily, there exists a large toolbox of practical techniques for answering difficult questions when they come your way. We teach them in in media training and also in public speaking training, for Q&A sessions. These strategies are versatile enough for you to use with bosses, clients, investors, customers – or anyone else in that category of people whose questions you might prefer not to answer directly.

Best practice has changed fundamentally from the bad old days of spin doctoring. Not long ago, it was common for politicians, spokespeople and...

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Six signs your communication is suffering from the Curse of Knowledge (and six ways to fix it) communication media training public speaking soft skills

Imagine you need to get your head around a difficult new topic – quantum theory, for example, or genetic engineering. Would you be better off talking to a Nobel Prize-winning genius, or a young scientist working in their lab? You might get lucky, if the wise professor is also a great communicator, but surprisingly often you’d learn more from the lowly assistant.

The reason is a cognitive bias that psychologists call the Curse of Knowledge. It’s a software glitch that causes our brains to overestimate how much other people understand. When we master an idea, we delete the memory of how it felt not to understand it. We have a blind spot when it comes to empathising with people who don’t know what we know. The Curse of Knowledge causes experts to speak over the heads of non-experts: the wiser they get, the less effective they become at explaining themselves.

Understanding and compensating for the Curse of Knowledge is a powerful way for all of us to become...

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