Communication Tips from Matt Abrahams

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I’ve had the privilege to learn, read, and attend various courses for self-improvement. Now, I want to share them with you. I want to begin by acknowledging Matt Abrahams and his contributions to my understanding and practice of communication. Matt is the author of the book: Speaking Up Without Freaking Out: 50 Techniques for Confident, Calm, and Competent Presenting. You can also tune into his podcasts on Think Fast, Talk Smart: The Podcast. In addition, he is a lecturer in organizational behavior at Stanford University Graduate School of Business. If you want to learn more about Matt, I would check out his LinkedIn profile and his website, Think Fast Talk Smart

Let’s start with his lecture, “Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques.” I understand that at first glance, it might look intimidating. It’s an hour long. You’re probably thinking if it’s worth it. Maybe, you are thinking if you have the ability to get through it all. I will tell you this, “just try it.” Trust me. Be engaged with what Matt is saying and the time will fly! Not only that but you will be surprised by the vast number of things you can get out of it. 

Reflecting upon the Lecture: 

At times, like many, I find that communicating with others can be nerve-racking. However, Matt reassures us that this is human nature. There is nothing wrong with feeling nervous or even anxious. The most important thing is what you come to do. In other words, do you let it take over you or do you stop to reassure yourself. If you stop your mind to reassure yourself, you are doing it right. If not, that is okay. Like Matt says, it takes time and practice to build your communication skills. 

What to do:

Matt gives us the following four strategies to focus on:

  1. Get out of our own way
  2. Give gifts
  3. Listen
  4. Use structures

What does this mean:

Let’s break it up into sections like Matt did.

Get out of your own way.

This involves understanding that you will not always be correct or have the ability to entertain everyone. It means that you stop thinking about what will happen next and ground yourself in the present. I’m not going to lie. It is a very challenging behavior to break away from. I was surprised when Matt pointed out the tricks that I subconsciously defaulted to. However, he gives us very effective methods to break this habit. I tried it with my family. While at first it was silly, it allowed us to reflect upon the workings of our mind. 

Give Gifts.

The best explanation and description comes from Matt. He shares that we should rethink and reimagine the way we see communication. You have to stop yourself from seeing it as a challenge and reimagine it as an opportunity. Once you do this, you will be less anxious and nervous. This is because it will not see it as a performance but as a conversation. 


You might think this is the easiest one. It is not. Listening builds off the first strategy. If you want to be an active listener, you have to live in the present moment. You cannot plan your response while they speak. This is to say, you cannot be thinking of your future steps. Taking in every word as it comes is an essential part of listening. You cannot finish their sentences or assume what they will say next. If you are having a hard time with this, you need to slow down. 

Use Structures.

Structures will be your best friend. They will help you and your audience understand where you are going. Above all, as Matt says, structure will set you free. So, how do you come to do this? Not only do you have to chunk your information, you need to follow one of the following structures:

If you enjoyed this blog, go read my article on negotiation strategies and my book Navigate to the Lighthouse.

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