Veer away from social media for self-promotion


Life is a riot.

The other day, I was working on a scholarly journal in my office at the Lee University Communication Arts Building when a United Way of the Ocoee Region coordinator emailed me inviting me to deliver a keynote for their interns on the topic of communication.

I gladly accepted the invitation, made the necessary arrangements, and later delivered a two-hour workshop on the topic of winning in life through creative communication.

We had a blast, I must add. We laughed, we learned, we played, we thought. We exchanged understanding! Mutual respect was immediately attained by all parties. I liked them and they seemed to have liked me back.

I simplified and clarified, which in 2018, is a strong skill to have in the midst of all of these new technologies. Being human pays off. I didn’t have to compliment myself and put it all over social media. They did that for me, which ended up being a wonderful feeling.

Due to the nature of social media, people all over the world are engaging in way too much self-promotion, which in the long run can be quite damaging.

For a short period of time, I would argue that engaging in some form of self-promotion is required if one is to attract a sizable audience to buy into their personal brand’s goals and objectives. After all, how can anybody believe that people are experts on anything if they don’t tell you that they are?

Our society has grown used to hearing people saying how great they are, reasonably. Repeatedly claiming that you are the next Steve Jobs because you have wonderful entrepreneurial or technicals skills can, and probably will, give you more headaches than rewards.

Making other people happy face-to-face can do wonders for you. There is just no way that an ordinary computer-mediated conversation would do what my face-to-face keynote delivery did for United Way of the Ocoee Region and its employees. Playing the harmonica in front of a computer screen and failing to make eye contact with your audience will simply destroy any attempt to deliver a remarkable keynote or training presentation.

We are growing used to believing that we can emulate the real world with cyberspace. I don’t think we can. Complimenting yourself too much, regardless of the medium you decide to use, will result in negative audience reactions. People want to see you speaking charismatically and emphatically with them, sometimes singing a song when they least expect. At least, this is what I do. It works wonders every time.

As Harry Beckwith once said, “Being able to listen makes you captivating.” The opposite is also true, “Failing to listen makes you boring.” I would even go further to say that those who don’t listen end up not being heard by others.

Online communication is at best mediocre, and won’t have the same impact a person has when speaking with another person. Understanding is something that we strive for and expect when speaking with others.

Do we really understand everything we are being told these days in social media, text messaging or even email? Maybe we understand more than I want to admit, but I bet you would agree with me that your smartphone auto-correct has made you uncomfortable a few times this past month.

When we try to emulate something, we rarely do it with perfection.

Life is a sale, as Christine Clifford once taught us. Every time we try to communicate with somebody, we are trying to sell our ideas, thoughts and beliefs, values, you name it. The computer puts a barrier between you and the receiver of your message.

I am so convinced that face-to-face communication is so important for you that I am writing this column presenting many arguments for why mediated communication may not be the best way to communicate with people.

Be very careful not to believe that the computer will always make your life more paramount. What makes you outstanding is your ability to communicate with other people, and let me tell you, it is best done live and in color.

Got  it?

——— (Column previously published in the Cleveland Daily Banner)