Bento Box Thinking – How to Make Your Message Crystal Clear (and Be Seen as an Authority in Your Niche)

Communication. We all do it on a daily basis, yet so often we tend to misinterpret each other with even our closest friends. It only gets harder when you're trying to explain something to an audience that doesn't even know you in person.

In this episode, you'll learn how you can apply the "Bento Box Thinking" to the way you communicate that will help you get your point across easier and faster both in speaking and in writing, save time on coming up with a draft or script, and sell your product our service better! 

This episode is not only going to give an awesome boost to your marketing skills but you'll be able to use what you're about to learn even in your personal life!

Listen in!

More...

Subscribe & Download

Listen on the go! Subscribe to the ActiveGrowth Podcast using your favorite app:

Subscribe on iTunes

Episode Transcript

What You'll Discover in this Episode:

  • How being able to explain something clearly and concisely will help you not only in marketing but also in your personal life.
  • What Bento Box Thinking means and how it will help you create better content, faster - whether it's a product description, a blog post, a video, a podcast episode or even a book.
  • Why teaching the Bento Box communication skills to our marketing apprentices turned out to be the most important and useful lesson to focus on.
  • The background to how our mind works when it comes to articulate ideas and why it's so hard to stick to a single idea instead of jumping from one topic to another.
  • How you can record videos without using a pre-written script or wasting hours in front of the camera.
  • Example explanations - compare the 'usual' way to the Bento Box way of explaining the same concept and analyze how they are different so that you can learn the method.
  • Bonus tips to how you can get your point across as quickly as possible while making sure that your audience understands your message.

Resources

Here are the resources we mentioned during the episode:

  • As promised, here's an image of a Bento Box, the Japanese-style lunch box that has a compartment for each food:
bento box thinking

Source By Dllu - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?​curid=49844259

Step Up Your Communication Skills!

Try the Bento Box Thinking method next time you create content and see what happens! Does is make the process faster and easier? Can you get your point across better? Test the method and share your experience!

Join the conversation in the comments section or send us a voice message by clicking on the button below, and share your stories, questions, suggestions with us.

Also, if you have a question that you'd like to be answered on the podcast, send a tweet to @actigrow or leave a voice message below.

The next episode is coming soon!

About the Author Alexandra Kozma

Alexandra is a traveling marketer. When she is not editing podcast episodes or writing blog posts, she's out there exploring a new city. She's the creator of the Morning Mindset daily mindfulness journal.

  • Randal V says:

    Shane, that was great self-improvement content. As you point out, the reach of Bento Box thinking applies to all aspects of a person’s communications – from marketing and selling to personal communications. That’s the kind of skill that comes across as very impressive to people on the receiving side of the conversation.

    Until you described the technique, I think it’s hard for people to discern what you’re doing to achieve a “smooth flow”, a polished presentation.

    Therefore, I would be very interested in learning about other techniques you practice in the self-improvement realm.

    • Thank you for your comment, Randal!

      It’s a great skill to have, indeed. And once you know about it, you’ll recognize it easily in my content. But for those who don’t know about the technique (which is basically everyone) it just seems like you’re really smart. :D

      • r.mark.mckenna says:

        That’s exactly what I was thinking, Randal! I have long respected Shane for the professional way he explains and teaches, and have attempted (unsuccessfully) to deconstruct how he does it. I assumed it just came naturally. This podcast was amazing to hear that deconstruction. Bento Box Thinking is something I will work on. (In fact, I have been really struggling with the content for one of my products, wondering why it has been so painful to create and not feeling good about it at all, and during the podcast I realized: I made a stir-fry out of my bento box meal. Time to go back and separate it out.) Thanks for sharing a trade secret, Shane.

      • Thank you!

  • Michiel says:

    Great episode, I love the idea of Bento Box Thinking. I already tend to be quite organized and structured in my writing and speaking (or so I think :), but applying Bento more deliberately will hopefully improve my communication skills. Gonna try it out, thanks!

  • Mike says:

    This is a valuable and worthwhile listening experience. I’ve been thinking along these lines and the ‘Bento Box analogy just brought it all together. Great podcast!

  • John Aberle says:

    This is an excellent article on communicating with a clever way of explaining the organization. I’d never before heard of a Bento Box yet loved how effective it was.

    I’ve taught sales training for decades and as a believer in heart-centered selling have also taught that selling is about communicating. I personally warn them about being very careful with jargon because it can be confusing. Nevertheless, I don’t recall ever being as clear about the issues as you were when you talked about “words we use are based on our experiences.” That is so very true. And since experiences are individual, the understanding of those words are individual.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, John!

      I’m not surprised that you’ve never heard of Bento Box Thinking before, because I made that up. :D

      I agree that the basis of selling and marketing has to be good communication. There’s more to it than just good communication, but without good communication, you can never sell well.

  • Harry says:

    I once heard a funny definition of good communication: To talk as closely as possible past each other. The presupposition in this sentence is, of course, that it is impossible to really understand each other. You can only hope to talk as closely as possible past each other.

    I have got great benefits from using Mindmapping to clarify and identify the different boxes of the Bento Box which helped me in communicating more clearly. My challenge at the moment is to make my communication less boring and more compelling.

    About the downward inflection: I have done research with a large call center (1200 heads) about why some agents always scored a high NPS while other agents always scored a low NPS everything else being equal. One of the key differences between both groups of agents was how they ended their sentences. The agents who end their sentences with a downward inflection scored much higher NPS than the agents who end sentences mostly upwards. Apparently, the first group of agents was perceived much more skilled, knowledgeable and authoritative in the eyes of the customers. After I had trained the second group of agents to end their sentences with a downward inflection, their NPS increased significantly!

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      That is super interesting. Thank you for sharing, Harry!

      It’s amazing that such a seemingly small thing can make such a huge difference.

  • Christopher says:

    Bento box thinking is a fabulous metaphor to structure one’s thinking process and as you suggest training one’s self to subconsciously assembly thoughts will take practice. I particularly liked your comment to be assertive regarding interruptions from others when applying an inflection at end of a sentence.

    • Thank you, Christopher! From experience, I can say that it becomes automatic. Bento Box Thinking is something I developed over the years, without really noticing. Only once I had to explain to someone how I create content and how I communicate did I really notice the process that I had trained myself to follow.

  • Peter says:

    Shane, would you say that the Bento Box Thinking method is basically an outline? It seems to at least produce the result of a (mental) outline.

    In any case, it sounds really useful, I’ll try it out :)

    • Yes, the Bento Box Thinking leads to having an outline of the content in your mind. Or in your notes, for that matter. I recently recorded a video showing how I jot down an outline as bullet points and notes. I’ll be publishing that soon as well.

  • Karen+McCamy says:

    Hi Shane,
    Great information and so well — and clearly — explained & demonstrated! Love the Bento box analogy!

    I can certainly identify with the “telling everything” problem instead of just distilling the key points…

    I’d certainly like to see you go more in depth with this topic in a future article or podcast, or even Thrive University course!

    Somewhere (either here or on Thrive blog) you wrote about “epic content.” My niche is teaching “beginners” how to use specific software… I’ve been working on several “epic” posts, but I’m unsure how *deep* into the topics I should go…

    They would lead to paid content (membership & tutorials), so I’m wondering how you would extend the Bento Box thinking to these longer articles… Is it just a matter of including more (i. e., a broader selection) of points — similar to your “15 Reasons You Need to Create & Sell Your Own Product” post?

    Thanks!

    Karen

    • Thank you for your comment, Karen!

      Yes, the same principle extends to longer pieces of content. Even in an epic post, you don’t cover every aspect of everything. Writing and teaching always involves a certain selection process, no matter at what level. Also, in larger pieces of content, clear structure becomes even more important. There’s only so much that can go wrong in the span of 500 words, but if we’re looking at really long content, lack of structure makes it really unbearable. For this case, two things about Bento Box Thinking are especially relevant. First, to have a clear idea of which points to address and to put them in a good, useful order. Second, to make sure you don’t blur the lines between your points. Explain the first one, finish it, move on to the second one etc.

      • Karen+McCamy says:

        Hi Shane,

        Thanks for your input! :-)

        In retrospect (after my original comment) I was reflecting on the increased importance of Bento Box thinking in longer content, and especially the flow… I think one of the hardest things to remember — as a “natural teacher” — is to filter some information out! I want to teach my readers “everything” and that’s use not possible! I will definitely be much more focused and intentional about using this method for all of my content!

        (btw…I have been struggling with one single “epic” [cornerstone content] article for months! And…I had an outline! But I was still “all over the place” when I started writing it! It’s definitely a hard habit to break!)

        Thanks again!

  • Jean-Christoph says:

    That was an amazing episode. I would love to learn more about these kind of strategies to optimise my communication skills. I’m especially struggling creating good hooks, so what’s your secret weapon here, Shane?

    • Thank you for your comment, Jean-Christoph. I have a lot more to say about communication skills – in the context of marketing and otherwise. So, since this episode seems to be well received, I’ll probably revisit this topic in the future. However, regarding hooks, I don’t have any secrets to share. I don’t think I’m very good at coming up with a hook, myself. I shared some thoughts on this in this episode about copywriting, but I don’t consider myself an expert for crafting titles and hooks specifically.

  • Mike says:

    Hello Shane,
    Great job! I took a look at your themes and just purchased Thrive Architect 5-pack to use with my new project. You have earned lots of credibility.
    Mike

  • Jim says:

    Thanks for this Shane.

    Hanne once told me you use boxes to structure your videos, now I know exactly what she was talking about.

    Just have to remember to actually DO this before writing, and I’ll spend way less time spinning my wheels.

    I especially liked the point that people will remember MORE when you say LESS.

    I tend to want to cram too much in.

    Thanks for sharing your secrets.

    Jim

    • Thank you for your comment, Jim!

      This will definitely help with your writing. Remember to think of this as a habit. It’s something that you can make part of your process and part of the way you think in the first place. That will give you greater benefits than if you treat Bento Box Thinking as a one-off strategy to apply every once in a while.

  • Tim says:

    I’m totally guilty of randomly associating as I explain stuff.

    This episode was very, very insightful. The Bento Box analogy made it perfectly clear as well. Using visual examples like that help understanding what one wants to convey much easier, too.

    Actually, I’d be very interested in what else you talked about with your marketing team :)

    On a random side-note: What about the headline contest from 2-3 episodes ago?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for your comment, Tim! I’m glad to know you found this useful.

      Regarding the headline writing contest: I’ll have an update on that in the near future as well. :)

  • Sande says:

    It seems to me that people are seriously challenged in communicating ONE main idea at a time. Figuring out the one point or purpose of an article, speech, video, etc. is difficult. Thanks for this article. Any other thoughts and tips you have on this subject would be appreciated. Thanks.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Yes, that’s definitely a problem! I think it’s also because of the associative thinking that our brains do automatically. Even if we try to stay focused on one idea, our brains will offer up related ideas and topics as we’re presenting.

  • Hi Shane,

    Well it looks like it’s time to write a book called Bento box Communication. I would read it. Is this something that you came u with on your own or are there other books or articles you would suggest to go deeper into this topic?

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Terry! I may write a book about this at some point. I don’t think the concept is refined enough, though. I would spend some time teaching and coaching the method, before writing a book about it.

  • Len says:

    I really enjoyed this episode Shane. I hope you do decide to dive deeper into communication skills in the future.

    I’m doing a training presentation next week with a focus on communication skills. This episode couldn’t have come at a better time. Thanks

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you, Len!

  • Raul says:

    Hello Shane, thanks for your post. It can be really important for us to apply. Here is a short story of what happened to us some months ago. We launched a new product that costs 250 usd. I noticed that after viewing the landing page some people was asking strange questions about the product. I did not give much importance. We had few sales, but after giving an ultimatum, we sold 4 or 5 units. Just to later realize that people had no idea of what product they bought. I guess that by using this technique, we had had more sales, or at least more happy customers. And at the same easier to do presentations when you know that you just have to convey a limited number of ideas (2 or 3) that after all, is everything can be remembered. Thanks for sharing. Best.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      Thank you for sharing your experience, Raul. I recommend you redo that sales page, then do some user tests on it, to confirm that people actually understand your offer. Then, sell it again to the same audience/list as before. I bet you can get far more sales.

      And by the way: it’s a surprisingly common problem that people create sales pages or offers where the main problem is that visitors just don’t know what the offer is. This is how we’re affected by THE CURSE OF KNOWLEDGE. To us, it’s so clear what we’re offering that we often forget to explain the very basics.

  • Welly Mulia says:

    Very useful, Shane. Thanks for this. I admit I tend to ramble on and on and feel that I have to share everything about the topic. Of course this is bad like you said, as people will tune out eventually.

    This is a helpful reminder. Thanks again!

  • That has been very Shane, thanks! It made me more aware of how much I actually ramble during a conversation, going from one topic to another related and so on (same for my writing.)

  • JuanPedro says:

    Aloha Shane,
    I appreciate the content of this podcast very much.

    I have developed a product that everybody “seems” to know everything about when in reality they don’t have the foggiest idea what it is or more specifically what it does.

    So how do you suggest I should go about – where to start out – shedding some light on the product and its health benefits?

    For the time being this is for me a “what to do about nothing”.

    Your reply to Karen was very helpful.

    I have “my” bullet-point-list but I still don’t know where or how to start.

    Your input highly appreciated.

    • Shane Melaugh says:

      A good place to start is to verbally explain your offer to people who don’t know anything about it. See what makes sense to them, what questions they have etc.

      To find candidates for this, join a local Toastmasters group, go to a coworking place or join an entrepreneur meetup.

  • Tonya says:

    This was really helpful. I work in a culture where everyone interrupts each other and it has made all of us never-ending speakers. With the information you shared, I can work on my own effectiveness. Thank you again.

  • >