Good communicators know how they're going to answer questions about their company's products, financials, or vision. They don't ramble or give convoluted responses. They use words that are precise and assertive. And there are few leaders who do it better than Apple CEO Tim Cook.
If you're an entrepreneur, small-business owner, or the CEO of a Fortune 500, most people don't understand your company as well as you do. You have a deep and unique knowledge of the company's vision, the market, and the customer. Controlling a conversation to clarify your company's business is a valuable skill to build.
Here's how Tim Cook does it.
When Apple released its most recent quarterly report, it showed that profits had slipped, as did iPhone revenue. Bad news? Not necessarily. The stock spiked higher after the conference call because Cook offered a clear explanation of the broader, more positive picture. Thanks to double-digit growth from the App Store, Apple Music, and other services, Apple's service business alone hit $11.5 billion.
Cook bridged from the iPhone to the broader picture by reframing the conversation with these five words.
"The way I see it ..."
For example, in response to a question about slowing iPhone sales, Cook emphasized the fact that iPhones generated $26 billion in sales--a big number for one quarter. He then took control of the conversation, presenting the message he wanted analysts to take away, which was record growth in Apple's services business.
"The way I see it," Cook began, "we had the strongest hardware portfolio ever. We've got new products on the way. The pipeline is full of great new stuff both on the product and the services side. We're very fortunate and have worked very hard to have loyal customers ... The installed base is growing--hit a new record. That's obviously good thing. And we've got the wearables area that is doing extremely well."
By stepping back and offering perspective--wearables and services alone are approaching the size of a Fortune 50 company--Cook gave his listeners important context about his company.
Investors were impressed and the stock rose sharply the next day.
Cook Stabilizes Apple Stock on a CNBC Interview
Earlier in the year, Apple was once again losing ground on rumors its iPhone business in China was struggling. In an interview with Jim Cramer on CNBC, Cook took control of the narrative from his first words.
"Let me tell you the way I look at it," Cook began. "We manage the company for the long term. The most important things at Apple are, one, a culture of innovation. Second, we have a very large active installed base [of Apple devices], and third, [we have] the highest customer satisfaction and loyalty in the industry."
Cook then explained clearly and concisely how the combination of those three factors leads to a recurring revenue stream and loyal customers. And the stock stabilized after Cook's interview.
Cook often uses five words in a variety of ways to control the narrative. Instead of "the way I see it," Cook sometimes says, "To put it in perspective" or "To put it in context." Either way, Cook is reframing the message to help his listeners understand the broader business story.
Reframe, Don't Mislead
Reframing the conversation doesn't mean misleading an audience with information that's untrue. It's simply a way to help your listeners gain a better understanding of a business they may not completely understand. Cook cannot afford to lose the trust of his audience. The information he offers is accurate, but often misunderstood by outsiders who don't live and breathe the company each and every day.
Effective communicators rely on this advanced speaking technique to explain complex businesses. It'll work for you. Reframe your company's story by starting the conversation with these five words: Here's how I see it.