Matt Abrahams on Strategic Communication in Presentations and Sales – Episode 56


Strategic communication has long been an area of interest for Matt Abrahams, so much so that after leaving high school he decided to pursue degrees in communication. Fast forward to today and Matt can be found as a professor of communications at Stanford University and the author of a great new book, “Speaking Up Without Freaking Out.” On this episode of In The Arena Anthony Iannarino chats with Matt about the intricate dynamics that go into strategic communication and how sales professionals can learn some valuable skills to help their presentations have greater impact, resulting in more sales.

A high school interest in #communication led to a professional career, on this episodeClick To Tweet

What does Matt mean when he talks about “strategic communication?”

Communication is intended to make changes in situations and in relationships. But it’s not always organized or arranged in a way that enables those changes to happen. Matt Abrahams has found it helpful to speak of communication in terms of “strategic” communication: communication that is aimed at a very specific goal for the interaction. The goal for the conversation or interaction enables the preparation and the communication itself to be narrowly focused toward those ends and more effective in the long run. You will learn more about how to make your communication much more strategic in this great conversation.

The role ambiguity plays in strategic communication.

It may seem that anytime ambiguity is a part of the equation, good communication is not happening. But that’s not always the case. On this episode Matt Abrahams points out that in the event of a product or service offering that is not entirely developed, the promotional campaign will many times include intentional ambiguity in order to tease out the intrigue surrounding the product launch. It’s one way that ambiguity can play a major role in communication that is not only strategic, but effective as well. Learn how you can use the concept of ambiguity in your product or sales presentations, on this episode.

How to speak in a more relevant way that compels your audience to action, on this episodeClick To Tweet

Start your presentation with this powerful question.

Matt Abrahams has learned that the key component of any presentation is the underlying belief that the presentation is intended to serve those who are listening. In order to keep that vital fact in mind he recommends that everyone who is building or planning a presentation begin with the question in mind, “How will this presentation serve/help the people who hear it?” That one question enables the preparation to be done with razor sharp focus so that the real purpose of why it’s being created isn’t lost in the minutia of the planning. You’ll hear more valuable but simple insights like this during this great conversation.

The “What, So What, Now What” structure for strategic communication.

When organizing your next speech or sales presentation you might do well to follow Matt Abrahams’ favorite presentation structure – What, So What, Now What. It’s a way to ensure that you’re being clear about what you’re talking about, why it matters to your prospect or audience, and the specific action steps that you want to compel or motivate by the end of the presentation. This is just one of the many structures Matt outlines that can add greater degrees of effectiveness to your communication and persuasion to your close.

Why speakers need to start preparation with a question and outline their talk using questionsClick To Tweet

Outline of this great episode

  • Anthony’s means of connecting with Matt.
  • The backstory on Matt’s expertise in strategic communication.
  • The use of ambiguity in communication: for good and bad.
  • The outcomes that make communication strategic.
  • Why speakers should start with a question and outline using questions.
  • The What, So What, Now What structure for speakers and presenters.
  • How to be more relevant and compel your audience to action.
  • The power of stories in keeping people engaged and motivating action.
  • The variety of structures that can be used to present effectively.
  • Why every presentation is asking people to change.
  • Matt’s advice for those who give speeches: memorize or not?
  • Matt’s most current reading project.
  • The most important book Matt has ever read.
  • The people who have most influenced Matt’s thinking.
  • The most important lesson Matt has learned in life.
  • What Matt would be doing if he weren’t writing and teaching.
  • What Matt hopes to be remembered for.

Our Sponsors: or Email

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode





The theme song “Into the Arena” is written and produced by Chris Sernel. You can find it on Soundcloud

Connect with Anthony





Google Plus:


Tweets you can use to share this episode

Strategic #communication has a goal it is driving toward ~ Matt AbrahamsClick To Tweet
How to answer your prospect’s unanswered questions, on this episode of In The ArenaClick To Tweet
Subscribe to
In the Arena

Or subscribe with your favorite app by using the address below

Podcast editing and show notes -

Want more great articles, insights, and discussions?

Join my weekly Newsletter, sign up for Sales Accelerator and follow me on social.

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | LinkedIn | YouTube

Filed under: In the Arena Podcast

Tagged with:

[if lte IE 8]
[if lte IE 8]

Share this page with your network