Answer First, Story Second

Last week, I had the privilege of being interviewed by media and advertising specialist, Randy Alvarez, for his show The Wellness Hour.  As we prepped for the show in the “green room”, Randy and I talked through some of the potential questions he would be asking me.

When he asked, “Is downloadable audio the only way an administrator or practice can get your “Have Them at Hello” telephone skills training program?” Katherine and Randy Alvarez I answered, “Well, it is our most popular program and lots of practices have commented how easy and effective the audio training program is.  It’s a great way to get the foundational information but sometimes a practice wants more personalized and practiced training so we created some additional ways for them to receive that…”

Randy stopped me.  And then gave me a piece of communication advice that I found simple and profound:  Give the answer first.  Then, tell the story.

He had asked me a straightforward question, and I was deep into my story before I ever came close to answering it.  He rightly warned that I would risk losing my audience’s attention, and possibly their patience, if I did not quickly answer the question and then go on to tell my story.

I ruminated on this advice on my drive home from the studio and thought about all the times I observed a patient in a client office asking a simple question of a doctor or team member such as, “Will this hurt?” … only to have the professional launch into a “story” about it before simply answering, “no” or “not much.”  We so often wish politicians would do this more:  Answer the question.  Then, tell us your story.

We are all striving to make our communications clearer and more effective.  I think this simple tip from Randy is a mighty powerful tool to help us do that.

Do I think it will make a difference?

Yes. (Answer.)

Because I’ve been testing it with success all weekend with Tom.  (The story.)

Answer first.  Story second.


“The more we elaborate our means of communication, the less we communicate.”  
~~ J. B. Priestley


This week we are recycling a favorite MMS. Our new subscribers will enjoy Katherine’s story and the lessons she took from the experience. And to all of our MMS readers who have been loyal subscribers from the beginning… you’ll remember why we love seeing the world of business and life through the eyes of The Lioness.

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