Monday, January 28, 2019

A Snapshot of Winston Churchill

Winston Churchill is often mentioned as one of the most influential orators of the 20th century.

I was reading an article today and it quoted part of a Churchill speech, so I thought I'd run it through my system.

Here is the excerpt:

Now, let's take a look at one the excerpt looks like coded in the 8 Major Tones system:

Here's a view with the text visible underneath:

Given that this is the starting scale for gauging tone, can see, he hits 3 notes/tones, 2 of which are dominant:




In the 8 Major Conversational Tones system, the Top 2 most-used tones become the chord they are striking. Each of those chords are given a label.

Churchill scores as a framing-seller, which strikes the contemporary chord of:

This chord label is a reference to the near-cliche sales pitch line info-mercials, cueing you to stay tuned and buy in.

As you can see, all but one word in the quoted portion of the speech uniformly falls in the category of either framing imagery or actively selling it in a rarified way. Also, the one word that objectively informs all the imagery and selling is a name nested in the middle like a linchpin.

This is impressive and compelling speech, by any standard. I honestly don't know if it could be written in a more compelling, succinct, or convincing fashion (for its time).

Want to be doubly impressed by Churchill's skill? Read each color on its own. Minus a few grammatical hiccups, each one paints a picture for your mind to imagine and respond to.

Want to learn how the 8 Major Conversational Tones system works? Rt/share posts and let me know if you prefer a site like Patreon, a workbook, or some other platform.

© 2019. Sheralyn Pratt. All rights reserved. 

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Gillette: The Best an Ad Can Get?

People are both dismayed and inspired by the new Gillette ad.

Many women, in particular, see nothing problematic in the messaging, while many men counter that it's insulting to assume that the majority of grown men need to be lectured on the topics covered by someone selling them razors.

Why the split reaction?

Let's look at the language within the ad itself. I listened to the commercial and transcribed the audio I heard. Let's take a look.

(Left-aligned text is the narrator and centered/italicized are background lines.)

Gillette Commercial (w/ Transcript)


The #MeToo movement against sexual harassment.

Is this the best a man can get? Is it?

Bullying. It’s a problem

We can’t hide from it.

Sexual harassment is taking over...

It’s been going on far too long. We can’t laugh it off.

Who’s the daddy?
What I actually think she’s trying to say…

Making the same old excuses.

Boys will be boys. Boys will be boys.
Boys will be boys will be boys will be boys will be boys.

But something finally changed.

Allegations regarding sexual assault and sexual harassment...

And there will be no going back. Because we? We believe in the best in men.

Men need to hold other men accountable.
Smile, sweetie!

to say the right thing, to act the right way.

Bro… Not cool! Not cool!

Some already are—in ways big

C’mon shake.

and small.

Say, “I am strong.”
“I am strong!”

But some is not enough.

That’s not how we treat each other, okay?
You okay?

Because the boys watching today will be the men of tomorrow.“

End Text: It’s only by challenging ourselves to be more that we get closer to our best.

Buy: Gillette

What does the script look like coded?

Keeping in mind that red is a color of challenging and asserting authority and orange is the color for framing information presented, it becomes pretty apparent why it draws a reaction. 

This color scheme could rightfully be designated as The Lecturing Parent. This is how a conversation might look like anytime an authority is chastizing an inferior.

Yet it is a commercial selling a razor.

As to why the formula is offensive to men, that's simple: These dynamics offensive to everyone. Period. They leave no room to breathe in an onslaught of lecturing.

The topic can be flipped to something else, and women can be named to the exact same effect.

Doubt it?

Here's the same script, flipped to focus on women. Let's pretend it's a commercial for tampons or a maxi pad (because we need something that can hold a lot of red).

Commercial: Flipped

Credit-card spending

28% of people are still paying for Christmas a year later.

Is this the best a woman can get? Is it?

Shopping. It’s a problem.

We can’t hide from it.

Debt is taking over...

It’s been going on far too long. We can’t laugh it off.

Who’s the mommy?
Oh, my gosh! You totally need those shoes…

Making the same old excuses.

Girls will be girls. Girls will be girls.
Girls will be girls will be girls will be girls will be girls.

But something finally changed.

Leaders are pushing for a $15 minimum wage—a living wage.

And there will be no going back.
Because we? We believe in the best in women.

Women need to hold other women accountable.
You're great just the way you are!
Love it!

to say the right thing, to act the right way.

Girl, retail therapy can't buy self-respect.

Some already are—in ways big

C’mon cut a coupon.

and small.

Say, “I am strong.”
“I am strong!”

But some is not enough.

That’s not how we handle money, okay?
You okay?

Because the girls watching today will be the women of tomorrow.
It’s only by challenging ourselves to be more
that we get closer to our best.

Buy: Tampon/Maxis

Can you hear the tonal dissonance now?

This tonal combination fails in any direction its aimed, UNLESS the listener is already converted to the message.

For example, some men probably would agree with the flipped commercial and ask why any woman who wasn't guilty of overspending should be offended by being lectured by her tampon manufacturer.

If you're not guilty, what's the problem. Right?

So, for some, there is no problem with the ad.

But others are not looking to find their morality from a company that still charges more for pink items than blue and currently sponsors events like this:

It's a tough game to preach morality like a longsuffering parent. The standards are high and you have to hold them higher than anyone you're preaching to in order to retain credibility.

In my assessment, Gillette miscalculated on this one. This is not the best an ad can get.

It accomplishes the task of being on-pitch to one niche and tone deaf to everyone else outside of that choir--which includes more than 50% of their target market.

And now, they're probably going to have to drop their pink tax on female-marketed items pretty quick if they want to keep the choir they have left.

Want to learn the 8 Major Conversational Tones? Let me know. If there's demand, I would love to make a tutorial with resources.

Battle of the Letters

One of the best aspects of mapping conversational tones is that the process is objective. It doesn't care who is speaking or what they are saying, only how they say it.

What better way to analyze these objective dynamics than in the realm of politics?

Let's take a look at the (open) letters between Speaker Pelosi and President Trump over the past two days.

On January 16, 2019, Speaker Pelosi wrote:

The next day, January 17,2019, President Trump made this reply:

Both letters start with "Dear" and end with "Sincerely", following the courtesies of their generation. Both are on official stationery and formatted identically. The only difference is that Speaker Pelosi reiterates her name and title under her signature while President Trump assumes his signature needs no clarification.

Both letters angle at power moves that leave people divided, so let's look at these letters through the lens of the 8 Major Conversational Tones.

This is what Speaker Pelosi's letter looks like when color coded:

This is President Trump's:

"What do the colors mean?" you ask.

Well, there's a whole course I'd love to share with you on that topic, but think of it this way for now.

Red = Assert
Orange = Frame
Yellow = Inform
Purple = Sell
Blue = Share experience

If you look at the letters in this light, you can see that Speaker Pelosi sticks to 3 tones through the body of her letter.

Red, orange, and yellow. Her letter asserts, frames, and informs.

The red at the beginning of the letter is a reminder that it is her "privilege" to invite him (assertion of authority), and she ends in red by amending the offer with the stated presumption of his full attention. These are power moves.

All the yellow you see in the middle there is her informing the issue with stated rationalization anyone can address objectively.

The orange indicates coloring information in an angled light.

President Trump replies in 5 tones:

Trump frames and asserts superior authority out of the gate, painting her "trip" as an unnecessary "seven-day excursion in the light that 800,000 federal employees are not getting paid because she is away from the negotiating table.

Three major things he does differently:

  • He begins and ends coloring (orange), not asserting
  • He shares personal preference (blue)
  • He floats a solution to overcome the position he's put her in (purple)

What does it mean?

Pelosi's letter asserts authority, informs of precedence, frames for context, informs again, frames again, and ends re-asserting.

Trump's letter begins by framing, asserts a little, drops some info (that some might say undermines Pelosi's high ground), frames again, asserts high ground, inserts personal preference, asserts and frames again before floating an alternative before ending with an assertion and frame that puts the topic in dispute front and center.

Pelosi's letter is procedurally focused, with the attitude of closing a door; Trump's letter is situationally focused, ending on the note of an open door.


Obviously, reactions to both letters are highly subjective, especially among those who self-identify as partisan.

Speaker Pelosi asserts her authority, sets herself up on the high ground of precedence, and frames current context within those parameters to force a move of the State of the Union.

President Trump responds by framing her context, highlighting current information that doesn't reflect well, asserts his stance, shares a personal preference, offers her an alternative to his countermove, then asserts and reframes the real issue at hand, which is not the State of the Union, but border-wall negotiations.

The pitch (in purple) that Pelosi fly commercial if she wishes to go on her "excursion" is what will likely split any moderates paying attention. It puts Pelosi in a bit of a no-win situation.

If she doesn't go, Trump won something.

If she does go (and flies commercial), people are now asking why she is abroad when she's a month into a government shutdown here.

The optics are bad for her either way.

Who Won the Battle of the Letter?

In this instance, the variance in tones and solution-focused attitudes in the Trump letter make it the more memorable letter. And people are more persuaded by what they remember than what they don't.

Of all the precedence (yellow) Speaker Pelosi citing, how much do you remember?

Of the responses President Trump made, what do you remember?

If Trump had responded note-for-note, the ground might be even between them but, in the end, Trump's letter invites the reader's mind to imagine more.

And, if you are imagining, you are half-way to being persuaded (or outraged). After all, Pelosi's letter was procedural, professional, and backed up by precedence while Trump's was a bit more pushy with a tone closer to a rock in your shoe than one of professional respect.

But it's Pelosi's move now, and her next move matters.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Why 8 Major Conversational Tones?

Every type of communication is currently undergoing rapid change.

  • Relational
  • Professional
  • Promotional
  • Academic
  • Subliminal

They're all changing. Fast.

To be fair, communication is always changing, but the spread of the internet is transforming engagement faster than most are able to adjust.

Finding out if you are one of those experiencing fatigue from these radical shifts is easy. Just ask yourself these 5 questions:

  1. Are you more stressed than you were 5 years ago?
  2. Do you often wait after seeing posts/messages to weigh or calculate your response?
  3. Do you look at your phone in social situations?
  4. Are you typically familiar with what's trending?
  5. Do you know social media stresses you, but need it for personal or professional reasons that make it essential to your success?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, the shifts in modern communication are almost certainly affecting your daily stress levels.


Communication is key to both our survival and success. It’s a skill we learn right along with walking. It's that important.

Humans are highly adapted to process things in the analog world, but the digital world is a new frontier. Smartphones and the internet magnify what we think we need to process in any given day to thrive in our surroundings, turning us into the metaphor of the already full cup constantly overflowing.


There’s just too much to process these days and, with pleasantries largely left in the 20th Century, most of the new information coming at you ready to punish you for not already knowing it.


But what if I told you there was a system to decode the current flood of information you process daily?

Would you be interested in improving personal, professional, and virtual interactions?

It’s as easy as learning an 8-tone scale—C Major, in this case.

If you don’t know a C Major scale on the piano, have someone show you. It’s as simple as 8 notes played in a row. You start with middle C and climb up C-D-E-F-G-A-B-and end on C again. No flats, you just stick to the white keys.

That is a C Major scale. There are more scales than that, of course, but a lot of music is contained in those 8 major tones.

Our conversations are no different.

There's a lot you can do by learning 8 current notes and defining what keys work for you and which keys you'll leave it to others to play to a different audience.

All you need is a sense of pitch while knowing which tone is which, and you’re on your way to tuning all of your personal interactions into songs you can sing along to.

The 8 Major Conversational Tones system works on everything:

  • Social media posts
  • Cover letters 
  • Love letters
  • Ads
  • Professional correspondence
  • Anything with a message

You can use it to code or decode anywhere you want to make a distinct impression.

Interested in learning more?

Then follow me to see how it works and tag @SheralynPratt on tweets you'd like to see decoded into 8 Major Conversational Tones.

New Approach

A conversation I had with my brother yesterday gave me the idea to explain my system in a different way. Something like (WARNING: Super-bi...