P.T. Barnum famously said, “Without promotion, something terrible happens—nothing.” There is, however, something worse than nothing—being annoyed, which is exactly what happens to many patient listeners when they encounter a self-promoting small business owner. The Effects of Annoyance Annoyance is responsible for unmade business deals, failed friendships, and bad reputations. Adam Witty, CEO of Advantage Media Group and ForbesBooks, says he catches too many business owners “humblebragging” and being “overly self-congratulatory.” He says, “Confidence can turn to cockiness quickly and actually do damage to company’s reputation.” Every business owner trying to spread their message—which is all of them, really—needs to make an impression that leaves the listener with a positive feeling. Irene Scopelliti, co-author of You Call It "Self-Exuberance"; I Call It "Bragging," suggests that business owners should become more aware of their audience’s demeanor. “We find it very hard to imagine what it’s like to be in any emotional state other than the one we’re currently in, especially the emotional states of another person,” Scopelliti notes. "Braggarts tend to systematically overestimate how much the listener will share in their positive emotions.” She recommends looking into an audience member’s eyes and reading body posture. The Power of Storytelling Storytelling is another approach with a proven track record. 3M executive Gordon Shaw was one of the first to discover the power of stories in business. “ train sales representatives to paint stories through word pictures so that customers will see how using a 3M product can help them succeed.” Likewise, Adam Witty advises business owners to tell engaging stories because “stories connect to listeners.” Humor Eases the Way Experts also suggest incorporating humor into your conversations. Dwight D. Eisenhower once said, "a sense of humor is part of the art of leadership, of getting along with people, of getting things done.” Business owners who want to get the ball rolling need to create positive interactions between themselves and potential partners or customers. By taking strides to become personable, empathetic, and humorous, business owners can avoid annoying their listeners and better accomplish the goal of spreading their messages like wildfire.