It’s been one of those weeks. Running around like the proverbial fly, continuously aware of a ticking clock… get to the meeting … tick; send that proposal… tick; make those calls…tick; fill up the car … tick; pick up X from Y … tick…
We’re all juggling time. There are still only 24 hours in a day, yet, by necessity (and also choice), we try to squeeze in more and more. Most of us fail. The result is half-done tasks, half-read books and half-hearted conversations. We adjust by making decisions about what we give our time.
When ‘delete’ becomes default
Like many, I start the day by de-cluttering my inbox. Before I’m even out of bed, 80% of overnight emails have gone. As aspiring influencers, we need to think about the best way to make our ideas attractive enough to avoid digital oblivion.
We need to Think Twice
Part of the problem is that we default to norms. Email is convenient, so we use that. Powerpoint slides are engrained so we use those. There’s nothing wrong with either, but we make a mistake by using them unthinkingly. A voice call, an invitation to walk and talk, coffee at an interesting location, a bespoke video pitch may all be better ways of getting attention and results.
We need to think twice. First about what it is we want to communicate and second, about the best way to do it.
Whilst there are no guarantees, there are three hoops to shoot for. It we can connect with some or all, our chances of cutting through are greatly enhanced.
1. Be Relevant
Think about your own filtering process. What goes, what stays? In a world of many things and people competing for our time, only the most relevant things remain. Anything from a boss tends to capture our attention of course. So too do things we think will address our most pressing problems. We need to make our ideas a priority to have the best chance of cutting through the noise.
2. Be Meaningful
Nothing kills attention faster than dry, impersonal content. Most business-speak still defaults to numbers, metrics and other ‘left-brain’ information. We need to tell the ‘right-brain’ story that brings it to life. We must personalize the data to mean something important in the world of the recipient. So a 5% increase in profitability is great. But a 5% increase that has enabled the business to make a $10,000 contribution to a charity that my team selected if we hit our numbers is magical. It moves me emotionally and makes me feel that what I do counts!
3. Be Engaging
The last thing we’ll make time for is stuff that bores us. Be brave. Get your ideas across in a way that informs, entertains or inspires. Use great images. Tell a story that makes your point. Use humour to crack the tension. Anything that you can do to defuse the ‘formal’ business paradigm will help. It may feel safe, but it’s ineffective. The more authentic and informal you can be, the greater the chances that your message will land.
Build YOUR influence
There’s no shortage of clever people or great ideas. Knowing stuff is great, but it’s not enough. May of the people I work with come to me because they are frustrated at their inability to sell their expertise. Rethinking the way we communicate is the first step.
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