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When writing an email, preparing for a presentation or giving a speech, who is foremost in your mind, and who’s needs are most prevalent in your thoughts? We can go a few ways here. First, our thoughts may be on ourselves and our needs: I need to get my message across; I need to make a sale; I need to be heard; I need be recognized and valued. I think it is clear that this is not the way to go, but I think it is just as much a reality that this is a very common, albeit subconscious approach to communication.
The second course we can take is to think about the audience and their needs. We ask ourselves questions like, What do people need to hear; What problems are people trying to solve; What can I offer to people that has value and usefulness to them? Now we are moving in the right direction. Our focus has shifted away from “I” and toward “them.” In addition our efforts are directed toward creating value for the audience and not being valued by the audience. That is a subtle difference, but a difference none the less. Ask yourself, “If my audience is greatly benefited by my message but never thinks about me again, is that ok?” For most of us it’s not, but I suggest to you that it should be.
The second course is on track, but there is still a third and better course to take. I’m drawing a fine-line here when I say that the questions we should be asking ourselves when preparing to communicate should be even more specific. So, instead of asking “What do people need to hear?” we should ask, “What does (insert a specific name here) need to hear?”
The point is that for our communication efforts to be as impactful as possible our audience can’t be ourselves, and it must be extremely specific. Who is the one person in the meeting that you are most specifically attempting to create value for. Focus your communication on that person. Show that person that you empathize with their needs, goals, and problems. Make them believe that your efforts at this moment are about helping them address these very specific things. You may miss some people in your communication, but if you identified the right target audience then you will have created the most significant impact possible.
Check out RobertKerns.net – Robert is the author of the Podcast Intro and Outro music.