An Italian Actor, Pig, Blow It

April 1999

Dear Colleagues and Clients,

LodeStar Communications is ever vigilant on your behalf! We are out there observing what works and what doesn’t work to assist you in understanding how to be the best. Here are some thought to consider:

What Can You Learn from an Italian Actor?

The Academy Awards have come and gone. Many of you didn’t watch and don’t care. Too bad, there is much to learn about great (and not-so-great) communication from the Oscar show.

The first idea I call “The Curly-Tailed Pig Lesson”. It’s described in more detail below and has to do with knowing your audience.

The second lesson is to notice what moves and inspires people. Especially with corporate communication, this is important. The relevant idea is heart-felt emotion.

Enter Italian actor Roberto Benigni. He didn’t simply win Best Actor for his remarkable film Life is Beautiful. He captured the Oscar by winning the hearts of The Academy and all of America with his infectious charm, unadulterated enthusiasm and total ebullience. When he jumped across the seats and heads of Billy Bob Thornton and Steven Spielberg and hopped like a jackrabbit on stage to embrace Sophia Loren, he shocked and astonished the crowd. When he said he wanted to be like Jupiter to make love to all the people, his pleasure in the moment was our pleasure. Leaping across the seats of your colleagues isn’t the point. The tremendous power of expressing honest feelings is.

The feelings you express will be mirrored in your audience. It’s an immutable law of communication. If you are genuinely enthusiastic, the listener is more likely to be energized. If you are ho-hum and bored with your project, they, too, will be apathetic. If you believe the way to communicate your message is with a “stiff upper lip”, you can forget about creating any genuine commitment, teamwork or buy-in. Next year, watch the Oscars. It’s your “homework” for communication-skill training. Watch and learn.

The Story of the Pig with the Curly Tail

Have you heard the saying about the Pig with the Curly Tail? It only tickles the ass that’s got it. All too often, speakers and their content are like the pig with the curly tail. They may think their content is brilliant and scintillating, when, in fact, it is not that interesting to anyone else. As a result, speakers often make unflattering impressions of themselves and their intelligence. How is the Curly-Tailed Pig Syndrome avoided?

  • Couch your material in terms that are relevant to others.
    · “Know” your audience and what’s important to them.
    · Avoid data dumps.
    · Walk the fine line between weak and an overabundance of supporting information.
    · Develop your points like a master storyteller and avoid rambling.

By the way, the link between the Curly-Tailed Pig and the Academy Awards is to target your audience. If your audience has no interest in your subject matter, unless you intend to be an evangelist, don’t expect to convert them. Some people are interested in the Academy Awards and others never will be. It is important to remember content is always targeted, so don’t try to be everything to everybody.

How to Blow A Speech? Read It

An attractive vice president of a major airline was invited to speak to a group of professionals. Positioned as a company leader, his resume was full of credentials. He flew in for the occasion. He was greeted by a full house wondering would he share insights about recent strikes, deregulation and operations? He then proceeded to “read” his presentation, which was drier than a West Texas oil well and twice as boring. The audience could hardly be polite waiting for a respite. People breathed a sigh of relief when he finally opened the floor to questions-just for the change of pace.

This happens every day all over the country. Well-intentioned professional people blow an opportunity to communicate, because they don’t understand the fundamentals of an engaging presentation. Everyone’s time was wasted. Don’t let this happen to you! Notes, yes. Read, no.

When you decide to update your communication skills or when you need professional input on a major road show presentation, LodeStar Communications is eager to be of service. Remember, referencing this newsletter results in a 15% fee reduction on the Way Cool Presentations seminar, executive coaching or road show consultations between now and July 31, 1999. Call for a schedule of classes and check out our web site or email me at with your questions or comments.

Until next time,

Alex B. Ramsey President, LodeStar Universal

P.S. This letter is designed to present thoughts and ideas relevant to better communication and leadership. If you would like to be removed from the mailing, please tell me immediately. – If you know additional people who would benefit from this kind of information or our services, please let me know that as well.