Would you like to learn a simple tool to speak and write more effectively?
After learning what this tool is, take a minute to apply it to your next client call or email, or drafting of a blog post or speaker bio.
How did I learn of the tool?
Last week I attended an excellent presentation called “Get Better at Talking to Everyone”. It was presented by Chris Graham, who is the founder of TellPeople and a former practising lawyer.
Although his main focus was on speaking, the speaking tools he relayed (whether for speaking in an one-on-one conversation or to a room full of people) can be used also as writing tools.
You may recall Chris had shared some valuable public speaking tips in my post “Speak More Effectively and Build Your Speaking Portfolio for Social Media”. In that post, I noted knowing your audience as one of the key elements when preparing for your speaking engagement. Knowing your audience is also important when writing.
What is the tool?
Of the three tools Chris taught us, I want to share his tool for understanding your audience. Using this tool helps you with the next steps of getting your audience to listen, and understand and remember what you’re talking (and writing) about.
The tool is simply asking yourself, “If I were them”.
How do you apply the tool?
Chris explained that we needed to take a minute and imagine what the other person’s capacities, concerns, and interests are.
For example, in terms of capacities, “if I were them”, what would my knowledge and experience be? We can’t expect our audience to have the same knowledge and experience as we do. Thus, we can’t simply project what we know, what we think is important, or what interests us. We must think of the other person. Otherwise, as Chris stated, we risk “the failure to recognize other people’s expectations” like he did when he proudly handed in a 10-page memo to his boss for his first big assignment as a lawyer. His boss was expecting a 2-page memo.
We need to anticipate what our audience would be concerned about, and what their interests are, to be able to get their attention to listen. Also, envision what their next steps would be from listening to you. The introductory words we use when we speak and write can, for instance, alleviate our audience’s concern of having to spend time to educate us because we’ve positioned ourselves as someone who understands their business, industry, or role in their company and, thus, can efficiently and effectively advise them.
So take a minute to think about your last client call or email, blog post, or speaker bio.
Did you imagine being in your audience’s shoes before you started speaking or writing? Or did you only answer the question posed (e.g., what are the changes in the law) or complete the task at hand (e.g., email us your bio to include in the conference brochure)?
Is there anything you would have said or written instead after having thought about “if I were them”? For instance:
- Would you have identified a list of policies your client should be reviewing and revising in light of the changes in law, and suggested a training presentation about the changes in law so applicable personnel can better understand what internal and external processes could be affected to modify the policies accordingly?
- Instead of publishing a blog post only summarizing the changes in law using the same language as found in the legislation, would you have started off the post with questions your audience would be asking, discussed changes in the law with examples relevant to your audience’s activities, and set out next steps?
- For speaker bios, have you considered the aspects I mentioned in my article “How to Craft Effective Lawyer Bios” published in the Ontario Bar Association’s JUST. magazine?
Now imagine “if I were them” for your next client discussion or correspondence, or marketing or business development effort. It’s 0.1 of your time worth applying.