Great communicators have the ability to blend content and creativity. In this article I want to talk about the role of creativity in communication. You can have the greatest content in the world, but if you are not creative in your communication or presentation, then you may as well not have the content!
So how do you become more creative? The good news is that anyone can become more creative in communication. Here are four methods to increasing your creativity in communication:
1. The crock-pot.
Give yourself some margin.
Let your ideas marinate.
Creativity takes time.
In fact, the longer you allow ideas to sit in the crock-pot, the better they will taste when presented to people. So get ahead on laying out your talks. Begin now to work on talks that are still 2-3 weeks or even months away! This will give you some margin. In my Evernote application I have “notes” for every talk I am scheduled to give this year. That is roughly 30 different talks. And almost every week I am adding creative and curious ingredients (content) to the Evernote crock-pot that contains that talk.
So by the time I get anywhere close to giving a talk, I have all kinds of savory ideas that have been marinating for weeks or months. I can simply open that Evernote crock-pot and begin to construct the talk from thoughts and tidbits that I have been clipping for weeks or months.
2. The microwave.
I know … this is the opposite of a crock-pot. But the fact is, some communicators work best with timelines and deadlines. Some communicators do their most creative work when they are under pressure to perform.
This is not me! I need time to be creative.
I do not understand how some people are seemingly so spontaneously creative.
One thing I have tried to do to stretch myself in this area is to set up artificial deadlines. For instance, on a Saturday morning I say to myself, I have to talk in two hours about being a dad. And I give myself 2 hours to prepare a talk about being a dad. I force my mind to focus and create a talk.
The downside to being creative is that sometimes all you want to do is let things marinate in the crock-pot! There is certainly a benefit to challenging your mind to create a talk on a tight time-line.
3. The round table.
I have been asked hundreds of times over the years this question, “Are people born creative or do they become creative?” What I have unscientifically discovered and observed is, there are a handful of people who are literally “born” creative. They truly and naturally see everything differently. They are usually very eccentric and have difficulty playing well with others. Therefore, they often work alone!
On the other hand, I believe the vast majority of creative people have “become” creative. They were not born that way. They have actually trained themselves to become creative by involving others in the creative process.
I believe a round table of people collaborating on a talk together is the key ingredient to sustainable creative communication. This is not to say that every month or two you don’t have an out of the box, I think I might have been “born” creative thought. But those can be few and far between. Most people “become” creative when they get around a table of people.
4. The great outdoors.
Four walls are great for curators who are searching for already existing ideas but not for creators who are looking for new ways to say or present things. Here is an equation I have found to be true when leading creative meetings or seeking creative content:
Same Space + Same Content = Same Outcome and Ideas
New Space + Same Content = New Outcome and Ideas
By just changing the space and place, you change the creative outcome of your study, meetings or talk.
So, there you go. Start amping up your creativity this week!
*** In this world it seems we have, at times, traded creativity for content. In this article I talk about the 7 places a communicator can find great content for a talk.