Last week I attended a media and broadcast convention. The exhibitors and attendees of the event were all involved in some aspect of media – radio programmers, television programmers, publishers, podcasters, cable, and online streaming networks – everyone looking to capture a wide listening, viewing, reading audience.
Authors and leaders of various organizations were lining up in various make-shift studios set up throughout the convention floor to be interviewed by a show host in hopes of getting their message out to the world.
If you listened to the pitches, you would easily assume that these media outlets reach millions of people. And potentially, they are. But the truth is, of all the people who could be watching, listening, downloading, and streaming these messages, only a tiny percentage of people are.
Just because you speak to a large audience doesn’t mean that audience is hearing you. These days it’s never been easier to get your message out to a large audience. And yet, despite the cost-effective ways to connect with others, only a small percent of those messages are received by the intended audience.
So what does this mean to you? How can you improve the odds that what you want to share with others actually gets heard? Here are three keys to communicating more effectively.
For starters, be selective in what you say. Our attention spans have never been shorter, and the media “noise” and level of distractions have never been higher. The art of communicating with as few words as possible is truly that…an art form. But mastering the ability to communicate clearly and succinctly, in a way that is least likely to be misunderstood, in this day and age is invaluable.
Anyone who knows me well knows I tend to ramble – I often think as I am speaking rather than before. It’s not a positive trait. So this message is for me probably more than you. To break through the clutter and be heard, you must be very succinct.
Next, deliver value and results. Before you go into the details of all the great qualities your product or service has to offer, you need to grab attention by telling your audience first how what you have to offer will help them. When I speak with a potential author and I ask them to tell me about their message, in almost every case, they immediately jump into an enthusiastic summary of what their book is about.
Stop! Nobody cares. Even when people ask you what your book, your product, or your service is about, that’s not really what they are asking. They want to know first whether or not what you have to offer, what you have to say, will benefit them or help them. So before you tell people what you do, be sure to tell them how what you do will help them.
You see, we are all basically selfish creatures, and we want to know more than anything if what you offer will benefit me. Once I think that’s a possibility, then I become curious to know more – then I want to know more about what it is that you do or offer.
Side note: when it comes to selling a product or service it is more compelling and convincing if you let others tell about the value you have to offer. Here is where testimonials and endorsements are huge. If you are the one offering the product or service, people expect you to be positive about the value it provides. But we are cynical creatures, so to alleviate that built-in skepticism, let others tell their story of how what you have to offer made a difference in their lives.
Lastly, in any communication of substance, I think it’s essential to be clear on what you want people to do. In marketing terms, you need a clear call-to-action. I often see it in author media interviews; the author gets so excited talking about their book they forget to tell the audience to go out and buy a copy! Of course, every communication you have does not need to end with you making a pitch to buy something – if that happens, you will quickly find people listening to you less and less.
However, when you have something important to share, when you offer someone an insight, a message, a service of unique value, then don’t be shy in asking your audience to respond. I’m not saying you should be obnoxious or pushy. Just be clear in presenting the next best step your viewer, reader, listener can take and invite them to do so.