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June 2011

Going Verbally Viral

Saturday, June 11th, 2011 1:51 pm by Brian

Viral is now a good thing. And something you want to learn to spread throughout your company.

Express key concepts in a way that makes them go VERBALLY VIRAL throughout your organization

Thanks to the Internet, we have re-defined the rapid infection rates of a pestilence to stand for the rapid and people-generated dissemination of a YouTube video.

As internal business communicators we want the same effect after a meeting.  We used to refer to it as creating a “buzz.” That meant that people were talking in the hallways about a topic presented at the meeting. But that’s not enough.  A buzz is a a positive, yet undirected and unfocused discussion. For communication impact, our aim is for a key idea or initiative to go VERBALLY VIRAL.

An idea goes VERBALLY VIRAL in a company if I can hear it one time, get it, and then verbally share it with someone else at my company using the same word or words. Then they do the same.

Why DON’T key concepts go verbally viral? Too often leaders have an important initiative or concept that they want everyone thinking about and implementing. But that initiative or concept is never boiled down to a snappy and memorable catch phrase. Sure, the idea can be understood by an employee when they leader spends 20 minutes explaining it. But they cannot RE-EXPRESS it verbally and informally.

"Trickle Up" is an example of a phrase/concept that has gone Verbally Viral within a company

Verbally Viral Example

A financial services client of mine hired me to help them plan a leadership conference. What the CEO wanted was to give them a new challenge.

The concept was that they should stop looking for all the great new ideas to move the company forward to come from the top. He wanted them to accept the responsibility to create and drive change from their level.

Now, conceptually, could they “get” that.  Sure. But would it spread? Unlikely. But then I helped them see the importance of this critical concept being expressed in a way that could go verbally viral. The solution… “Trickle Up.” Everyone knows what trickle down means. Trickle Up is an instantly-memorable and repeatable phrase to express the concept. And after the meeting, everyone could, and did, start talking about Trickle Up.

For your next meeting, intentionally craft the key message into verbally viral phrases. And then watch as they turn into a positive pandemic in your organization.

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