Making an Impact in Today’s Hybrid World ft. Debra Jasper

Podcast

Season 2, Episode 14
The expectations of today’s workforce have changed. How healthcare leaders communicate, manage, and engage must change too. That means breaking old rules, choosing the essential over the expected and rethinking just about everything.

Join Chris Hemphill’s discussion with Debra Jasper about how to create clear, compelling messages that build trust, save time, and drive measurable results.

This conversation is brought to you by Actium Health in partnership with the Forum for Healthcare Strategists.

Chris Hemphill

VP, Applied AI & Growth
Actium Health

Debra Jasper

Founder and CEO
Mindset Digital

Mindset Digital logo

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Transcript


Debra Jasper
Work is hard enough, slogging through bad emails, slogging through bad PowerPoints. We just have to stop doing this to people and we have to stop doing it to ourselves. No one wants to lead bad webinars, and definitely no one wants to sit through them.

Chris Hemphill
Hello Healthcare. We are at H&PS 2021, and we are excited to bring these themes to you through our YouTube channel. Some of the topics that we’ve seen discussed here are around consumerism and the consumer experience, digital transformation, patient engagement. But when you’re sitting down here, you’re looking at all these conference topics, how do we synthesize that? How do we get this together in a way that gets our leadership to understand some of the changes and some of the innovations that we want to make?

Chris Hemphill
Well, we brought the absolute best person to speak to us on that, Debra Jasper, who is a founder and CEO of Mindset Digital. And what she’s done, I actually had the pleasure of seeing her presentation, but what she’s done is really synthesize a way to get communications across effectively in a way that drives change. Debra, could you just share a little background on what you’ve been doing?

Debra Jasper
Sure. Yeah. We’ve been talking a lot about how to make a big impact on the small screen, because now, of course, we’re working in a hybrid world. One of the things we talked about, of course, this morning is how do you make all of your content, whether it’s a news release or an email or a webinar, everything has to be short, organized, skimmable with a lot of clear calls to action, clear recommendations, clear context. Because I sort of say, “Boring doesn’t work.” It never did, but now it really doesn’t work. People are just not tuning in, in the same way.

Chris Hemphill
Excellent. That’s a great preview to that whole conversation, and it gives you a little bit of a lens into what it takes, short, organized, skimmable, SOS. I hope that’s on the screen, but either way, we talk about this challenge. We talk about small screen challenge. A lot of things you were talking about were big screen challenges too. Even if you have a big screen, you have a bunch of small texts, who’s going to read it?

Debra Jasper
Right.

Chris Hemphill
So the big question is, why is it such a challenge? Or, if you’re trying to drive change and communicate with senior leadership, why is it such a challenge to get a message across?

Debra Jasper
Sure. Especially senior leadership, because they do a lot of keynotes for C-suite executives, and you think we’re all distracted, they’re hyper distracted, right? Everybody’s so busy. We all have so much coming at us. And so, one of the things we used to talk about is how today’s audiences have eight-second attention spans, which is still true. But now people are not just distracted.

Debra Jasper
I think the big challenge now is they’re distant and they’re distressed. And the brain science of this, I find fascinating. The brain science basically says, “Well, when we’re stressed out, it’s harder for us to listen, it’s harder for us to learn, and it’s harder for us to remember what we learned,” which is why we go through a meeting and then we say, “What was it that you were talking about?” You know, as leaders, we’re going to have to communicate with extreme clarity and impact. Not just clarity, but extreme clarity, if we have any hope that we’re going to drive action.

Chris Hemphill 
Let’s dig into that a little bit more. We’re trying to break through people who are distracted. There’s all kinds of things going on, much more pressing matters. So, what is extreme clarity? What’s the basic concept around that?

Debra Jasper
A lot of what’s happening now is people have … I talked today about the three Ws. You have to start with what, what am I talking about? And, why does it matter? So what, what is this about? And you better be able to answer that in a sentence or two. So, what? Why does my audience care? And now what, what do we want them to do next? And we all kind of know the self-interest rule. People care because, what’s in it for them? But too often, we start our presentations and our emails and our reports with why we care instead of talking about why they care, why does the audience care. So extreme clarity requires you to get to the heart of why people care fast.

Chris Hemphill 
But wait a minute. When I was in college, I was told that my papers-

Debra Jasper
I know.

Chris Hemphill
… they had to be a minimum of 20 pages. You’re telling me that that was wrong?

Debra Jasper
I teach graduate courses, actually in public policy. I actually used to teach, it was usually students … I was kind of the last class before graduation, and I would say, “Now you’re going to take that lovely thesis and you are going to try to break it down, not dumb it down, but break it down in a way that makes people want to read it.” Because sometimes you think about all those college papers, and of course your professors read them because you paid them to. Now, when you’re out here, we’re not tuning in, unless you can make a compelling case for why we should.

Chris Hemphill 
Great. And that, when you said, “Break it down, not dumb it down”?

Debra Jasper
Yeah.

Chris Hemphill 
I want everybody to know. I want everybody to know, just because you’ve broken it down, you’ve communicated it more simply, you’re not dumbing it down. You’re not watering your message down. Right?

Debra Jasper
Yeah. Simple is hard. Right? And so, everybody always talks about the famous quote. People argue over who said it, but I love it. It is, “I’m sorry I wrote you this long letter. If I’d had more time, I would’ve written you a shorter one.” It’s because it takes time to get down to what’s most essential to share. And if you don’t know why it’s important, your audience really doesn’t. That’s true if you’re writing. I always say, “Clear writing reflects clear thinking,” but it’s also true if you’re presenting. If you put a lot of complexity on the screen, all that says to me is you haven’t done the hard work of breaking it down and telling me why it matters.

Chris Hemphill 
I’ve got to tell you, coming from the data science side of things, I want to say it like this. It feels good to have done some really intense analysis and like, “Oh, here’s the box plot, and here’s all the other types of charts,” and things like that. It really feels good to go over all that explanation, but it sounds like we have to divorce ourself from being proud of all this analysis and stuff that we’ve done, and really get into what the audience is focused on. Right?

Debra Jasper
Yeah. Yeah, and so here’s what’s funny about that. I was a journalist in another life, as I mentioned. I was an investigative reporter and I used to write long form investigative projects. I once filled a dozen pages in the newspaper. So, I love all that analysis, and I love long form writing, and you bring out all this complex data.

Debra Jasper
But the truth is where we are now with the audiences so distant, so distracted, so much going on, you think about everybody at home and their kids are talking and their dogs are barking, and there’s just too much. We can choose to give them all that complexity, but if they don’t read it or they don’t take it in, it doesn’t matter. So I say, “We can either be relevant or we can be reluctant, but we can’t be both.” We cannot be reluctant to adapt to this changing environment if we want to be relevant.

Chris Hemphill
Well, I’ve got to say that … So, you’re even talking about having to adapt as well.

Debra Jasper
Oh, did I adapt. Yeah.

Chris Hemphill
There’s so much stuff that we have to unlearn, and I’m wondering, your journey or the journey that you try to guide people down, how do you unlearn that kind of baked in?

Debra Jasper
Yeah. It’s funny. I was a writer and I was teaching at the Ohio State University and in the John Glenn School. And I realized that we were teaching people how to write, and I said, “I saw the handwriting on the wall and it wasn’t handwriting anymore,” because my students were coming in and saying, “No, we want to create YouTube videos, and we want to tweet.” So we launched the first social media fellowship for journalists in the world, and we were the first people to start teaching journalists. We were working with CNN and 60 Minutes and Chicago Tribune and LA Times, and we were talking about Twitter, which they hated. Journalists did not want to embrace Twitter early days. And we said, “No, I think it’s going to change the world.” I should have written the book then, because it totally changed the world.

Debra Jasper
But you think about even the impact of Twitter and social, and talk about getting down to what’s most essential to share, you had to really get to what mattered in a sentence. And I think that’s why people loved it so much, because it forced you to synthesize information, and now we’ve adapted to that. If you’re spending your whole days engaging in short messages when all this complexity comes at you, what I always say is you go, “I’ll do that tomorrow,” or it’ll end up in your to-do Saturday pile, which becomes your to-do never pile.

Chris Hemphill 
Beautiful. And so earlier you brought up SOS, short, organized, skimmable. I love little heuristics like that because that’s something that I can, if I’m typing my email, I can just bring that back in my head.

Debra Jasper
Yeah. Right. Yeah.

Chris Hemphill
What are some other little tips that somebody watching this video could just take away and make sure that they’re staying on course?

Debra Jasper
Sure. We have a whole program on short, organized, skimmable. We have entire micro courses, because again, you can’t teach people how to be short, organized, and skimmable with long, meandering courses. But that one is critical. But we also talk … You heard me talk about ARC, which is you have to have a clear call to action, clear recommendations, and clear context, and the context should be at the bottom. You’ve got to start with, what is that call to action? If you have more than one, I’m probably not tuning in. If you get me five, then I just get paralyzed.

Debra Jasper
We also talk … A lot of things that people find compelling though, is sometimes they’ll say, “Debra, you talk a lot about the power of the informal.” That’s why we say casual does not mean careless. People are resistant to being more informal, because to your point, business schools and all that, they teach you a lot. They teach you to elevate your language, but then you’re into that cursive expertise, which is when you’re talking to impress rather than inform, and we’re just not tuning into any of that. So you’re over here kind of going, “Well, wa, wa, wa, look how amazing my research is,” and everybody else is like, “Wow, there’s a cute new cat video on YouTube.”

Chris Hemphill 
And just going into that and the teachings that you’ve been able to do, one thing that was really interesting about your presentation was you showed kind of the before and after on LinkedIn profiles, and then before and after on emails that didn’t need to be the Iliad, right?

Debra Jasper
Yes. I always say … A friend of ours, actually, I stole this from him. He always says, “You don’t have time to write War and Peace and I don’t have time to read it,” but yes. Yeah. LinkedIn profiles, the same thing, that formality. So often people want to get on LinkedIn and they want to write in their elevated language and they want to say … Here’s the thing. I didn’t sit down today and say, “Hi, my name is Debra. Debra is a dynamic leader.” You know, we just don’t do that. But somehow we go to LinkedIn and we write like that, and that is not building trust.

Debra Jasper
We have to think more about telling the powerful story of us, which goes back to, why do people care? Instead of starting with how long you’ve been in business, because if I don’t know you, I really don’t care. Instead of saying, “Tom has been in business for 30 years,” you want to start with what’s in it for the people that you serve, or the people that you work with. So I always say … When we do LinkedIn makeovers for executives and I start with this question, and it’s a tough one, “Don’t tell me what you do. Tell me what you love about what you do for others.” If you can’t really answer that quickly, then you want to spend some time thinking through how to answer that question.

Chris Hemphill 
It-

Debra Jasper
But even then, that profile has to be short, organized and skimmable. Because I want to call you up on LinkedIn and get a quick look at what you do, but I don’t want to read your … You don’t need to tell me that you once interned at Kinko’s, so people have to sort of get to the point even in their LinkedIn profiles.

Chris Hemphill
Absolutely. I think that just talking with you and knowing the type of work that you do, this is probably something that’s had a lot of impact on people’s ability to grow in their careers.

Debra Jasper
Yeah.

Chris Hemphill 
I’m just wondering if there’s any particular person you remember or any kind of case where there was bad communication style or they were too talky, or what have you. Could you talk about maybe a turnaround that’s happened as a result of thinking this way?

Debra Jasper
Sure, yeah. Actually, yesterday, an association leader called me and said her LinkedIn profile was a game changer for her, so she just got a new job. And she’s like, “There’s no way if my profile hadn’t been good, I would’ve gotten this big promotion.” So, she was super excited.

Debra Jasper
But also, people, we’re in pain and none of us want to present in a way that you start watching people get on their phones. It’s painful. We’re in pain as speakers when we stand up in front of an audience and you just feel like, “Oh, I’ve lost people.” And when you put up visuals, at Mindset, we call it rapid visual storytelling, you can almost see people lean in. It’s just so much more engaging. And when you get to clarity, like, “I’m going to give you through three key things,” people will start writing things down. I had a guy call me a couple weeks ago and he just gave a talk with over 150 slides. It was his first time doing visual storytelling and he was so excited.

Debra Jasper
So here’s what’s really fun. None of us want to … Work is hard enough, slogging through bad emails, slogging through bad PowerPoints. We just have to stop doing this to people, and we have to stop doing it to ourselves. No one wants to lead bad webinars, and definitely no one wants to sit through them. I think the big challenge is getting people to invest the time it takes to become a powerful virtual communicator, but you’re not going to have a choice.

Debra Jasper
I’ve been evangelizing about this, I feel like, for a decade, but in the last year and a half people have said, “Oh yeah, we have to do this and we’ve got to do it now.” For me, it’s been joyous to see people lean in finally and say, “Yeah, we’re going to embrace some new approaches.”

Chris Hemphill 
I love that context too. You’re not going to have a choice. There’s so much out there. You’re trying to get your webinar or your content out, but there’s 20 minutes of prologue to [inaudible 00:13:43] like-

Debra Jasper
And people reading to you?

Chris Hemphill
Ew.

Debra Jasper
This is why I was saying, people, I think their temptation on a small screen is, “Hey, look, I can look at the bottom and read to you.” No, you can’t. This is why I was saying earlier, right, if you read to your kids to put them to sleep, you cannot read to me in a webinar, or on stage either. But the temptation in a webinar is pretty strong and people want to read those introductions, and then it gets awkward because you can never read in a way that flows, so there’s just, yeah. Being a powerful virtual communicator is the essential new skill. I call it a new basic.

Chris Hemphill
No. Yeah, yeah, absolutely, no doubt on that. And for the people that are watching, one reason we put this together is so that if you weren’t able to attend H&PS and see rapid visual storytelling in action, you can at least get a little taste of that.

Debra Jasper
Sure.

Chris Hemphill 
For the folks that want to reach out, communicate, or have any kind of questions for you?

Debra Jasper
Yeah, so mindsetdigital.com. They can go check out what we’re doing. Or of course you should link in to me. I always say, “My LinkedIn profile, you really spend the time on it when you teach people how to do powerful LinkedIn profiles.” But my LinkedIn profile is just Debra Jasper, D-E-B-R-A J-A-S-P-E-R.

Debra Jasper
And then I want to get messages from people. I always hear from people saying, “Here’s what I did with my PowerPoint,” or, “Here’s how I changed this,” or … Sue Jablonski’s speaking at 2:00 today from Ohio Health, and she’s amazing, and she’s going to have more than a hundred slides and she’s doing a lot more rapid visual storytelling. And that’s an example. She’s like, in the old days, she’s a chief marketing executive at Ohio Health, she said, “No more than five slides, or no more than 10 slides.” And now she’s realized that visual storytelling matters and people are going to remember what you said. I said today, “Say dog, see dog.” If you’re talking about a dog, you’re going to show me a dog. If you’re talking about … Whatever you’re talking about, you need to show me on screen, and your impact will just be … it goes up tremendously.

Debra Jasper
So, we all want to present with clarity and impact. We want to write with clarity and impact. We’ve got to learn how to do that, to your point. It doesn’t come naturally.

Chris Hemphill 
I’ve got to say this. During the presentation, you told me it was about 361 slides in about an hour, right?

Debra Jasper
It was 365 slides in about 50 minutes. Yeah. Yeah.

Chris Hemphill 
50 minutes, okay. I’m sorry for anybody who didn’t get to see it live. I’m just curious. People are probably watching this on YouTube. Any place people can go on YouTube to see rapid visual storytelling in action?

Debra Jasper
Yeah. If you go to our website and you go to the keynotes section, we do have a video there, but yeah, typically we end up doing a lot of work with people where I coach executives on how to do this. I also, of course, have a master class. It’s really fun, too.

Debra Jasper
The masterclass is called Design For Attention, and we talk in the first section about how do you apply narrative. Then we talk about rapid visual storytelling. And then we talk about delivery because especially on a small screen, there’s some tricks to actually delivering in a way that feels more natural. Because you know what it’s like, you’re on a webinar and you think, “Is there anyone out there?” I mean, it’s tough. So, there’s just a lot that goes into this, but we all went to school to learn how to be writers. We didn’t learn how to do that overnight, so we’re all going to have to be lifelong learners. We’re going to have to go back and rethink how we’re doing everything.

Debra Jasper
I will say one word about training, though, and I talked about this earlier, is we do gamified training. You saw that we redesigned a bad curriculum in cybersecurity. You say “cybersecurity training” and people’s eyes glaze over. But if you gamify it and you make people look like Vikings and you unlock rewards and all of that, it’s way more fun. So, we did that with patient satisfaction training, and the hospital tripled their patient satisfaction scores. I mean, they went way up because people wanted to take the training. It was fun. It’s short bursts of learning. So, everything we do, we’ve got to rethink. There’s no doubt about it.

Chris Hemphill
Yes, and literally, we’re at a conference talking about rethinking the types of experiences that we give to our patients. Now we have to rethink the way that we deliver and get our buy-in from our teams on that, so I strongly encourage folks to go out and look at this, look at what’s been put together here.

Debra Jasper
Thanks.

Chris Hemphill
And thanks for sharing your contact information at Mindset Digital. With that, I hope that you’ve appreciated this little slice of H&PS?

Debra Jasper
Yeah. It’s been amazing. What an amazing conference. You’re right. The topics have been incredible. The energy’s been great, and just being back in a room with people is so much fun, so totally enjoyed it.

Chris Hemphill 
Thank you. And for the folks that couldn’t join us at H&PS, or the folks that want a little bit more, I hope you’ve appreciated this talk with Debra.

Debra Jasper
Yeah.

Speaker 3
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