WOULDN’T IT BE NICE IF LIFE WAS AS CLEAR AS THESE SIGNS? Okay, that might take a lot of the fun and flavor out of things, but sometimes it would be really helpful to have a simple guide for how to do things better.
And since this is business blog, I’m going to give you a simple guide for how to improve your communications.
Now, when I say “simple”, I mean SIMPLE. It really comes down to only two words: “You” and “Me”. That’s it. Just two words.
But those two words can help you be more effective, more persuasive, and more connected in all your communications. They work whether you’re putting together a critical presentation for your board of directors, preparing for a client call, or maybe just trying to lobby support for a new initiative.
How does it work?
Go through whatever it is you’re working on — a presentation, a prospecting email or letter, your outline for a meeting, etc. — and mark it up as follows:
Wherever you find something about your company, your products or services, your idea, your agenda, or your plans, write “Me” next to it.
Wherever you find something about the interests, goals, needs, or pains of your audience or reader(s) or prospects, write “You” next to it.
[If you’re not sure whether something is about “You” or “Me”, put a “Me” next to it.]
Pretty easy so far, right?
Now, count up the number of “Me”s and “You”s. How’s the balance? More “Me”s than “You”s? If so, you’re probably not helping your case. And, if a lot of those “Me”s come before you get to the first “You”, you’re really in trouble. (And if you don’t have any “You”s — well, don’t tell your boss about this post just yet . . .)
It’s probably not going to shock you that people are more interested in themselves than they are in you. That’s just life, right? So it makes sense that if we want to influence or persuade or motivate someone, we’ll have a better chance if we focus on what matters to them.
But it’s not enough to have something relevant to them somewhere in your presentation or letter or discussion. If the focus isn’t on them from the beginning, you’ll lose them before you ever get to the good stuff. People are not going to patiently wade through five paragraphs until they finally find something to care about, and they won’t sit in rapt attention through forty-five slides if you don’t get their brains engaged on the first slide.
That’s why the words “You” and “Me” are so powerful. They give you a quick way to see where the focus of your communications are. They also guide you to those parts that could/should be revised for greater impact.
So go through your emails, docs, plans, and presentations. Wherever you find a “Me”, either change it to a “You”, move it to the end, or delete it altogether. You’ll find that these two little words can point you to more effective and compelling communications every time.
[You can find more on this and related subjects at The YouBlog — practical ideas on presentations, persuasion, selling, and communications.]