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How Horsing Around Builds Communication Skills

How Horsing Around Builds Communication Skills

In a saturated market place where consumers are bombarded with competing and conflicting messages, it’s easy for businesses to be invisible unless their message cuts through the clutter.

While attending a unique leadership training as part of Deb Pace’s The Equine Effect™* program, where horses more than humans are the real teachers, I was reminded of the need for clear and consistent communication if I am to connect with my target audience, in this case, a horse.

As a prey animal with a strong survival instinct and flight mechanism, horses are supremely sensitive. When they detect energetic changes in their external environment, they will respond accordingly to protect themselves and the herd, including reacting to a human’s emotional energy. If, for example, a person interacting with a horse communicates fear through shallow breathing and tense muscles, the horse may stiffen up and back off. However, if a person communicates a relaxed confidence through deep and rhythmic breathing, and a relaxed posture, the horse may be more inclined to “listen” and “engage”.

One of the goal-setting activities we did during the training was to manoeuvre a horse to walk through makeshift goal posts at one end of the outdoor arena, but without actually touching the horse. I knew that to achieve my desired outcome of having my chosen horse walk happily by my side to the destination, I needed to be an effective communicator. The following criteria were not only effective in communicating with the horse, but are equally applicable to communicating in business.

  1. Have an intention

Begin with the end in mind by asking “what is the desired outcome of my message?” A message delivered with intention will help you communicate your desired outcome with clarity and certainty.

  1. Know your audience

Whether pitching to a prospective client, giving a keynote presentation or writing content for marketing collateral, research your audience as far as possible by finding out if they have a common language, their values and beliefs, and what they may know / not know about the topic.

  1. Own a position

Be clear on the central point of the message. For instance, what is the key point of value or benefit for the audience? What is the “worldview” or central belief you wish to impart on the topic?

  1. Keep it simple

A message is more likely to connect with the audience if it is simple. Avoid using unnecessary technical jargon, acronyms and complex words when there is a simple alternative that conveys the same meaning.

  1. Be congruent

When delivering your message in front of people, there needs to be congruence between verbal and non-verbal communication. This means that the words chosen, the tonality used and body language need to be in sync to impart the desired meaning. From a business perspective, deliver the customer experience you promised so that expectations are satisfied.

  1. Appeal to emotions

While logic is important to capture the mind, facts and figures in isolation won’t capture the heart. An appeal to emotion builds attachment by going beyond rationality and evoking deep feelings about why a message matters.

  1. Be consistent

Apply your message consistently across all platforms and touchpoints to ensure your audiences have a consistent experience of your brand.


©Ros Weadman 2018  Ros Weadman is the creator of the Reputation Equation™, founder of Marcomms Australia and author of BRANDcode®, a PR and marketing guide for small business. Connect with Ros on LinkedIn or via www.rosweadman.com.


*The Equine Effect™, a transformational leadership and coaching methodology using horses, is conducted by equine-specialist and professional coach, Deb Pace. She conducts a range of equine-assisted leadership programs including for corporate organisations, schools, community-based clubs and individuals. For more information please call Deb on 0418 959 5589 or email [email protected].


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