1733 – Getting The Point Across with Steve Woodruff

In this episode of the Thoughtful Entrepreneur, your host Josh Elledge speaks with the CEO of Impactiviti/ClarityFuel, Steve Woodruff.

Woodruff wide

Steve Woodruff's work primarily focuses on communication skills in the corporate world, including sales, marketing, training, and leadership development. He emphasizes that effective communication is essential in business and that many people struggle with providing too much information or being vague and confusing.

According to Steve, the two main problems in communication are information overload and vagueness. Overwhelming recipients with excessive information can shut down their attention, whether it's through lengthy emails or rambling presentations. On the other hand, being vague and using jargon or technical terms can also lead to confusion.

Many people, especially those new to marketing, may struggle with communication because it's not their primary skill set. Steve agrees and emphasizes that less is more when it comes to communication. He reveals that our brains process 11 million bits of information per second, but we can only focus on 60 bits simultaneously. Therefore, the competition for attention is fierce, and getting to the point quickly is crucial.

Steve emphasizes the significance of having a clear and concise message that will stick in the minds of others. He refers to this as a “memory dart,” a precise and memorable description that can easily be referred to. He suggests moving away from the term “elevator pitch” as it implies a forced and salesy approach. Instead, he advocates for using a word picture that captures the essence of what you offer, such as comparing oneself to the “Mercedes of podcasters for entrepreneurs.”

Key Points from the Episode:

  • Importance of clear communication in various forms
  • Problems of information overload and vagueness in communication
  • Less is more in communication, getting to the point quickly
  • Applying principles of clear communication in workshops and keynotes
  • Creating a memorable and concise message (“memory dart”)
  • Moving away from the term “elevator pitch”
  • Using word pictures to capture the essence of what you offer
  • Wrapping up offerings into something tight and memorable
  • Importance of clarity for others to remember and refer to you

About Steve Woodruff:

Steve Woodruff, often called the “King of Clarity,” boasts an impressive 37-year sales, marketing, consulting, and entrepreneurship career. This extensive experience uniquely positions him to impart the principles of clear and effective communication to others.

Steve has a rich corporate training and workshop facilitation background, catering to a broad spectrum of companies, from startups to major players in the pharmaceutical industry.

As the Founder and President of Impactiviti, Steve is sometimes dubbed the “Mayor of pharmaceutical sales training.” His consultancy work spans various life sciences companies, where he advises on training solutions, including technology platforms and global implementations.

His expertise is designing and executing diverse learning initiatives, such as workshops, pre-launch training, online modules, assessments, and webcasts.

Notably, Steve is the author of the influential business book, “Clarity Wins” (2018), and he has recently released “The Point” (October 2023). His workshops on communication, collaboration, vendor/project management, and leadership networking, all rooted in clarity principles, are highly sought after by clients in the Life Sciences sector.

Beyond his professional life, Steve is a devoted family man, a proud father of five sons, and has been happily married for 40 years. He resides in the historic town of Franklin, TN, and holds a degree from Vanderbilt University, harkening back to the era when computers relied on punch cards.

About Impactiviti/ClarityFuel:

Impactiviti/ClarityFuel embarked on its mission over 14 years ago, driven by the singular goal of enhancing the efficacy of collaboration between vendors and training clients.

Today, it is a trusted partner to numerous top-tier Life Sciences companies, encompassing pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, and medical devices. Its core function is to assist these organizations in precisely defining their training requirements and identifying the ideal vendor partners.

With an extensive network spanning over 60 vendors/providers specializing in diverse training solutions, Impactiviti/ClarityFuel has established enduring partnerships. It goes beyond mere networking; it comprehends clients' unique needs and leverages its robust network to connect them with experts capable of fulfilling those needs.

As a testament to its value, it also imparts crucial collaboration skills to client personnel, equipping them with the tools required to excel in their training roles.

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Links Mentioned in this Episode:

Want to learn more? Check out Impactiviti/ClarityFuel website at

Check out Impactiviti/ClarityFuel on LinkedIn at

Check out Steve Woodruff’s New book: The Point  at

Check out Steve Woodruff on LinkedIn at

Check out Steve Woodruff on Twitter at

Check out Steve Woodruff website at

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Josh (00:00:05) - Hey there, thoughtful listener. Would you like consistent and predictable sales activity with no spam and no ads? I'll teach you step by step how to do this, particularly if you're an agency owner, consultant, coach or B2B service provider. What I teach has worked for me for more than 15 years and has helped me create more than $10 million in revenue. Just head to up my influence and watch my free class on how to create endless high ticket sales appointments. You can even chat with me live and I'll see and reply to your messages. Also, don't forget the thoughtful entrepreneur is always looking for guests. Go to up my influence and click on podcast. We'd love to have you. With us right now, Steve Woodruff. Steve, you are the king of clarity and you are the author of the book Clarity Wins. Your website is Steve Woodruff. Steve, thank you so much for joining us.

Steve (00:01:12) - Josh, it's a pleasure to be here with you and your audience. Absolutely.

Josh (00:01:16) - Great. Well, tell us a little bit about your work, who you get to work with and the impact that you have.

Steve (00:01:21) - Most of my work is in the corporate world. I work a lot with people in sales, marketing, training, leadership development, and it really focuses on communication skills, everything from email to personal branding to marketing to writing. As you know, there's nothing much happens in business without communication, and a lot of people really don't know how to package information in a way that gets the point across. And so my new book, which is called The Point, is a handbook for how you can actually get the point across, get to the point and get people on the same page.

Josh (00:02:05) - Yeah. What do most people what are we doing? How come we're not? How come? In our mind we hope we're being clear, but maybe that's just not being received. What's what's what do we typically doing that's causing some hiccups in that process?

Steve (00:02:21) - Two main things. One, too much information on an awful lot of unstructured info dumping that overwhelms the mind of the recipient and shuts it down. It's when you when you've gotten one of those emails that, you know, you're going to scroll, scroll, scroll.

Steve (00:02:39) - You know what exactly what I mean? Or you're sitting in a talk and the presenters just blah, blah, blah all over the place and you're going, Where are we going here? Well, this is a huge problem. Then the other problem is vagueness and confusion, where people don't know how to actually put things in a way that turns the light on. Maybe an overuse of jargon or of confusing terms or being overly technical. So TMI, too much information and vagueness are the things I am at war with.

Josh (00:03:15) - Yeah. And I think we can all identify with that. And sometimes I think, you know, particularly, um, you know, maybe people that might be newer to or they, they might be very good at what they do, but they are now having to do the work of marketers and maybe that's not their first skill set. Like I'm a leadership consultant, but now I'm being forced to also be able to communicate, which, you know, listen, I'm good at one aspect of it.

Josh (00:03:44) - And so I know with that I then think we all know what that tendency feels like because, well, more information is better, more is more and more will only convince the other people, you know, of just one more thing that's absolutely going to convince them that they need to, you know, kind of move to that next level of engagement. You know, and I'm speaking kind of specifically for the kind of the business entrepreneurial world, you know, which I think a lot of we trip over our shoelaces, our own shoelaces quite a bit.

Steve (00:04:13) - Well, less is more. And the reason why and these are some some numbers that are really striking, Josh, your brain in my brain. We are processing 11 million bits of information per second. From all five senses. That's how much of stimulation is pouring into the brain. And it all has to be filtered down. When I'm having a conversation with you. That's 60 bits. We can focus on 60 bits. So the competition that we have is this vast array of noise, all this other stimulation, and we've got to win the 60 bit battle for attention against 11 million bits of competition.

Steve (00:05:03) - So as a sales person, a leader, marketer, parent, pastor, teacher, this is the warfare we're all in. How do we get quickly to the point and engage the mind with all of that arrayed against us?

Josh (00:05:22) - Yeah. So what does it typically look like, Steve, when I mean, obviously you're doing a lot of thought leadership and advocating for brevity and clarity, but what what do you actually what do you do as a professional?

Steve (00:05:38) - So besides the writing, I do a lot of speaking, so I do workshops, I do keynotes, and I take the principles that are contained in my books and then in small or large group settings, go over them and apply them into specific instances for that particular crowd. So if it's marketers or salespeople or leaders, we'll deal with different aspects of it. But the core framework of good communication is the same no matter what the discipline, there are the same rules and the same tools because the brain has an operating system and it all kind of works the same way.

Steve (00:06:16) - And so if we know what the brain wants and how it wants it, we can be a great communicator. And that's why I wrote my new book, The Point, so that literally 8 billion human beings could have a handbook for good communications. That's how universal these principles are.

Josh (00:06:35) - Yeah. Steve, are there any processes that maybe you could walk us through or. You know, I think what I would really love is, you know, beyond just emphasizing the importance of this topic, maybe there's something that our listener could immediately do in over the next couple of weeks or something that that could, you know, maybe it's just a lens that they could look at their own content or maybe a process. Is there anything maybe you could some action items or some something that you could walk us through?

Steve (00:07:03) - So I'll give you two things. The first thing and the first principle of the four step process of the clarity framework is the first thing is you got to have a point, believe it or not, and I know you believe it, a lot of people don't have a point, and that's why they're wanting.

Josh (00:07:20) - Kitchen.

Steve (00:07:21) - Sinking to just throwing spaghetti against the wall. And the the problem is that the recipient of that download of confusion is not going to listen. We're going to shut that down. So how do you have a point? Well, I have a very simple formula for that. Whoever your audience is, one or many, they're thinking a certain way right now, feeling a certain way. Acting a certain way. As result of this communication. How do I want them to think, feel and act differently? What's the shift when we can articulate in a simple sentence what the shift is? That's the point. That's the destination. That's the purpose for this communication. And now once we articulate that, we can get to the point because we know what it is. But if it's all vague and cloudy in our minds, it's going to be even more foggy in the minds of the person that's listening. So practically speaking, how does that work out? Well, we all have this huge battle with the email inbox emails, the low hanging fruit.

Steve (00:08:34) - And every day we're being inundated with dozens of emails. And what's happening is the human mind, very quickly is scanning the most important visual real estate, which is the subject line. And the first sentence, that's what determines whether you're going to get a hearing or not. So I encourage people to front load their emails with something extremely relevant. Interesting action item, deadline, whatever it is, right in the subject line in first sentence, because that's your chance to hook. If you don't get right to the point quickly, you'll be ignored. And really, it's the same principle for a speaker that gets up. You'd better tell me in the first couple of minutes where we're going or I'm not listening. It's the same with a book. If the book is boring or diffuse, I'm not reading it. So frontloading. Our communication with relevance is the most important thing we can do immediately to win the battle.

Josh (00:09:31) - What's that called in speaking like your. There's a term for that, right? When you hit the stage and like.

Steve (00:09:37) - Yeah, well, there's a lot of different terms, but journalists do the same thing. They say don't bury the lead. In other words, when you when you hit it with the headline and your first paragraph, you better grab me. Don't bury it down six paragraphs because then nobody's going to pay attention. And with the speakers, it's the same thing if you don't hook me right away, you know what I've got? And everybody in the audience has this smartphone and I've got a very easy alternate if you're not interesting and if you're not relevant. So we've got to design our communications to be interesting on the front end.

Josh (00:10:16) - Yeah. So what? How might that look? Or how might we know what to lead with, let's say in an email communication.

Steve (00:10:25) - So a lot of times with email, what we're looking to do is whether it's conscious or not. Do I need to do something? Do I need to do something with this? What's this for? And so one of the best ways is to put the actual request right in the subject line.

Steve (00:10:42) - Josh I need a one paragraph input by Friday at noon. Boom. You can't mistake what's going on. What I'm looking for, what I'm asking for. And I'm doing you a favor. I'm letting you know that this is important. This is how important it is. And this is what I want from you. But if it's ambiguous or if I put so many things in that email, so many different bullet points, that it's overwhelming, you're just going to put it off and we both lose. So a lot of it is getting direct and simple and brief so that it can't be mistaken.

Josh (00:11:18) - Yeah. Steve So you're you have one book that is on currently on Amazon and when is the next book do.

Steve (00:11:28) - So the point is going to be released October 17th and it is through Morgan James Publishing and it'll be in bookstores and Amazon and Barnes and Noble and all the usual places. I have a number of advance copies as authors do. And so, so far I've had tremendous response from from influencers and podcasters and reviewers because I've designed it to be incredibly simple and practical and actionable, immediate action that you can take to be more clear.

Josh (00:12:02) - Yeah. And so your your book currently Clarity Wins That book is available right now on Amazon. And so what is the transformation that you would expect would happen for somebody as they go through clarity wins?

Steve (00:12:19) - Well, when when an entrepreneur or a small brand or even a person that's in a career change, one of the most important things we can do is have an incredibly clear and concise message that will stick in the minds of others what I call a memory dart. I like to throw overboard the term elevator pitch because nobody wants to talk in the elevator and nobody wants to be pitched. So what I advocate for is a very precise memory dart that will stick and that will make it easy to refer. So if I said, Hey, I had a conversation with Josh today and he is the Mercedes of podcasters for entrepreneurs. What I've done is I've stolen an existing memory hook that says top level. The best Premier Et-cetera and I have planted that image in somebody's mind and I've summed up a whole bunch of things with a word picture that is the most important thing.

Steve (00:13:24) - Any small company, any entrepreneur, any consultant can do is wrap up your offering into something so tight that someone can remember you and refer you. And that's the point of the book. Clarity wins. The subtitle is Get Heard and Get Referred.

Josh (00:13:41) - All right. So Steve, your website is Steve Woodruff. Com for a friend that's been listening. What would you recommend they do? Where do they go from here?

Steve (00:13:50) - Well, the first thing is, if you are looking to establish a brand message, if you're looking to, you know, tighten up your outward expression to the world, clarity wins is great. If you're looking to bring about a communications overhaul in your organization with things that are not just marketing or brand related, but have to do with collaboration skills, project management, email, presentation skills. That's what the point does. And then I also do talks and workshops. So if people are looking for someone to come in and speak to their teams on communication skills, that's actually the heart and soul of my work.

Steve (00:14:29) - I take all this material from these books and apply them in the talks.

Josh (00:14:34) - Yeah. And again your website Steve the clarity king again also I should point out you're a pretty good LinkedIn follow as well. So if you're looking to improve your associations Steve you definitely share a lot of great content there as well. So Stephen Woodruff, again, thank you so much for joining us. It's been a delight. Again your website Steve Thanks so much Steve.

Steve (00:15:01) - Thanks Josh appreciate it.

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