What Sardines Taught Me About Communication Skills

Natalie MacNeil talks about communication skills in this video

As an entrepreneur your communication is sooo critical, whether it’s communicating with your team, your clients (or potential clients), the media, or the public…

I spend a lot of time working on improving my communication skills, but there’s always something new to learn – a lesson driven home for me recently by what my partner Octavian and I now refer to as, “The Great Sardine Incident of 2015.” (More on that in a minute…)

I created today’s episode of She Takes on the World TV to help you evaluate your communications strategy and become crystal clear on exactly what your clients need to know in order to understand the product or service you’re selling them.

We’ll also talk about:

  • A KEY question to ask your clients when you’re onboarding them (this works great for new team members, too!)
  • What might be missing from your website that could be seriously impacting your customer support
  • Why you need to keep 5-year-olds in mind when communicating with your clients
  • And, of course, I’ll share The Sardine Story…and what it’s taught me about #COMMUNICATIONFAILS


Remember, it’s important to make ZERO assumptions when it comes to communicating.

I just assumed that sardines were small and usually in a jar. Just because that’s MY worldview and I’ll call it my “Sardine Lens,” it doesn’t mean there is nothing else out there in the world of sardines. I hope you can learn as much from this hilarious experience as I did.

Do you have a “Sardine Lens” experience you’d like to share? I’d love for you to leave a comment below and let us know about a time when your assumptions led to a funny (or maybe not so funny) communication mishap, and what you learned from it.

My actionable for you this week is to take a look at how you onboard a new client or team member and check to see if you are giving detailed enough instructions, and walking them through what comes next and what they can expect.

If you have a product-based business, ask yourself if you’re making your customers feel 100% comfortable using your product.

If today’s episode speaks to you, be sure to share it with your friends. Here’s a Tweet you can use:

When it comes to biz #communications ask yourself ‘Will a 5 year old understand this?’ More tips from @NatalieMacNeil http://bit.ly/1P5Acga (Click to Tweet)

Thanks so much for watching and for being a part of our community. I love connecting with you and hearing about your “a ha” moments and business breakthroughs. It’s the inspiration for absolutely everything we do here.

Cosmic hugs,

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11 thoughts on “What Sardines Taught Me About Communication Skills

  1. This episode made me laugh out loud. “A whole f’ing fish.” 🙂

    It’s always good to be reminded to keep my communication clear, concise, and complete. And, to clarify at the end by asking if there are any questions, or allowing the other person to recap/reveiw what has been communicated to him/her.

  2. HAHAHAHA!! I love this episode, I busted out laughing when I saw the sardines…it’s also funny how you started of so nicely and proper than you’re like fkn fish!

  3. Ah! I need to improve my communication with my clients so badly!

    I do tend to give very detailed information, though, and I’m worried that so much detail turns people off and makes them less likely to actually read the things I send. What’s your experience with that? Is there a balance to be struck? I have a 6-page handbook that I give to all new clients (and have continuing clients re-sign each year) and almost NOBODY

    1. Hey Melissa! Is this 6-page handbook in addition to a contract they may have to sign? I highly recommend getting this down to a one-pager that walks your clients through the most important information they need to know. That will ensure more people go through the details since people tend to do a lot of skimming these days. Attention spans are getting shorter! There is an exception here: If you are a designer or developer, or work in another field that requires you to collect key information and get direction, you’ll sometimes need a survey that’s a few pages long. Otherwise, I think a one-pager with the most important information is the best way for you to communicate what you need your client to understand.

  4. Whoops, hit enter too early.

    Almost nobody actually reads the handbook. Then I wind up answering the same questions 50 times, even though that question is addressed in the handbook. I though taking out some of the detail, to make it shorter, was the answer, but now I’m not so sure.

    1. And by the way Melissa, even when you state something over and over, people will ask about it. It happens in our business all the time 🙂 We have snuck in more mentions of certain things we get asked about a lot, and we still get the Qs.

  5. This is too funny! I can’t even BEGIN to count all the times my boyfriend has brought home something surprising like this from the grocery store. 🙂

    It’s a great lesson, though. I’m working on my systems right now and creating template for onboarding, so this video came at the perfect time and is great motivation to cross that to-do off my list this week! Do you ever find that new clients are overwhelmed when you spell things out step-by-step? Sometimes I feel like I’m stressing people out when I tell them what the next steps are when we start working together.

    1. I have this great onboarding system and new client nurture sequence in my upcoming book, The Conquer Kit. With new clients, I like to start by giving them 3 key things to do or bits of info they need to know. Then, after a couple days, they will get a couple more steps. Taking it slowly seems to work best 🙂 And yes, people do get overwhelmed, and will miss key details, if you tell them everything at once.

  6. Excellent point on explaining things like you are talking to a 5 year old! I would worry that it appears I am talking down to someone by doing that sometimes but it sounds like you find that is not the case.

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