How a Rapper can make Us All Better Business Communicators

Dessa dropped some wisdom in Rochester last week.

This female entrepreneur, barrier pusher, and rapper is part of the Minneapolis hip hop collective, Doomtree. She fought to pursue her music career, working as a medical technical writer during the day, a waitress at night, and a rapper during late nights while trying to break into the field and pay her rent at the same time.

Besides being a BA female role model, she’s a talented writer and lyricist. Just take one look at the lyrics to her song “511” to experience her wittiness. She’s published in MPR and the Star Tribune and also has short collections of her own work.

It’s safe to say, Dessa has based her career off of effective communication. She disposed some critical lessons in communication at the Mayo Transform Conference last week. These tidbits of knowledge were meant to facilitate better patient-caregiver communication, but can also be applied to our own personal and professional lives.

1.     “Consider the source. The message is the messenger.”

Dessa advised considering what people think of you before you open your mouth. Visual first impressions make a huge impact, as much as we like to ignore that fact. I think it’s also important to be strong and confident when relaying our messages. You’re always selling your business, even if it doesn’t feel like it. It’s important to remember that you are the expert of your own business, technology, or research. You are also an extension of your own brand, so believe in it!

2.     “Make informal information exchanges more than transactional.”

Dessa encouraged everyone in the audience to “nudge off our scripts and communicate as real people.” No one wants to be treated like a health outcome instead of a patient during a doctor visit. The patient wants to be treated like a real person. When Dessa is touring and signing autographs, she might hear the same story 1,000 times of how some song she wrote affected someone’s life. But to that person, she has to treat the story like it’s something new. The same lesson can be applied to business. No one wants to hear a business pitch that’s been rehearsed so much that it sounds robotic. Cut out the same lame sales runs. It’s important we remember to connect with others as people, not just as another number.

3.     “Expertise can make communication difficult.”

It’s important to keep in mind your audience and their level of understanding when communicating. This concept was drilled into my skull as a scientist, and especially applies to those in the medical field. Never talk down to people, but make sure your communication is understandable.

We should all think about removing heavy jargon when speaking with others outside of our field. Never assume that everyone just understands. Using those loaded words doesn’t make you look smarter, it just makes your communication unintelligible.