Anaphora

We are back. We are ready. We are doing it. Issue 012.

Welcome to The Story is the Strategy, a weekly newsletter about becoming an uncommonly good communicator. My mission is to help you significantly increase your professional impact by sharing your ideas more effectively. Learn more here.

🚀 Updates

Longtime readers will note that this newsletter took an unplanned hiatus in the late summer and into autumn. Sorry about that. 

I struggled with the newsletter format to be honest. My goal is to teach you how to be a great communicator - it should always be fun and never be boring, but it also needs to be extremely useful. You should get a very high ROI on your time from reading this, or I’m doing something wrong. That said, it’s hard to learn in a structured way from a newsletter, and I fell into a trap of trying to shoehorn in sequential lessons week after week. That was both tricky and not fun to write.

I actually think the right approach for newsletter learning is an evolutionary one. Evolution is random and drives change on the margin. So going forward this newsletter will provide a single standalone idea each week. Here and there, you’ll encounter something that resonates with you - and the marginal gain you get from incorporating those tips and tricks will make you a better communicator. Over time, just as evolutionary changes accumulate, my hope is that you’ll be far more effective at getting your ideas across than when you started.

So the newsletter will go out on a weekly basis. I’ve also redesigned my website. I’ll use that for longer form writing (and perhaps a structured course at some point if there’s interest.) 

Last, I want to thank everybody who reached out and encouraged me to keep going with this project. I was touched to hear from every single one of you, and that’s why I’m doing it.

💡 One Idea for Communicating Better

Anaphora 

Get ready to learn a powerful new communication technique.

Get ready to inspire people with your strong convictions.

Get ready for people to be wowed by your presentations.

Anaphora (uh·na·fuh·ruh) is one of the foundational rhetorical flourishes that we inherited from the Ancient Greeks. It could not be easier to use. You begin a series of sentences (often three - triads are a magical number when communicating, just like in music) with the same few words. This structure provides harmony and continuity to the points you’re making, it increases your sense of conviction and it makes what you say much more memorable.

Perhaps the greatest modern use of anaphora is Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech, where eight sentences begin with these words. If anything, King’s speech demonstrates that anaphora can sometimes be too powerful: everybody remembers “I have a dream;” nobody remembers anything else that he said! Still, something beats nothing seven days a week.

Putting It to Work 

Anaphora is a bit like salt when cooking. It makes everything taste better, but the trick is to use it sparingly. Fortunately for you, in most business environments, no one uses it at all. Imagine a world where you were the only chef who knew about salt, and you see how powerful this can be. 

There are three immediate anaphora uses which are really easy: strong start, strong close, unifier. Either at the beginning or the end of an email or presentation, add anaphora for emphasis and memorability:

We said we would hit our targets. We did.

We said we would ship this product in Q4. We did.

We said we would keep customer acquisitions costs below $11. We did. 

(Fun fact, because the words at the end repeat as well, this is also an example of epistrophe, aka anaphora’s less famous sibling.)

You can also repeat an idea throughout a presentation or speech as a marker/unifier. This is what Dr. King did in “I have a dream,” even if they’re not directly sequential. A simple example might be to start every new idea or section of a presentation with a phrase like, “We’ll know we’re successful when…”

How can you use anaphora to better communicate your ideas? Reply to this email or hit me up on Twitter.

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