Have you ever had a conversation with someone and then afterward thought… “What the hell was the point of that?”
A sad question for a full grown human to have to ask themselves seriously.
But it happens all the time.
Just the other day, someone called me. I won’t say who it was… because I like them and unless I get more calls like this from them, I want them to continue to like me, too.
Anyway – my wife sat and listened to my half of the entire 15 minute call. And when I hung up, she asked, “So what was that about?”
I just sat there staring off into space with my mouth open like a dead trout – because for the life of me, I could not remember what (if any) point this person had.
I know you’ve taken that phone call…
…or received that email
…or attended that meeting
…or read that blog post.
The one that left you thinking, “What the hell was the point of that?”
Now, even though I remain, as always, unwaveringly on your side – I’m going to break your brain just a little bit.
How would you feel if you knew that’s what people thought after speaking to you on the phone? Or attending your meeting… or reading your last blog post?
Scary thought, right? But I promise you that each and every one of us at one time or another has caused another person to ask, “What the hell was the point of that?”
Now that I’ve planted that little bomb in your head… let me assure you that the sun will come up to-morr-ow.
I’m going to show you how to not be that person ever, ever again.
Bet your bottom dollar. (Sorry… it had to be typed)
The Dos and Don’ts of Great Communication
The reason most communicators find themselves in what-the-hell-was-the-point-of-that land is because they lose sight of what the purpose of communicating is in the first place.
And before we go into what the purpose is, let’s talk about what it’s not.
1: The Purpose of Communication is NOT to Boost Your Ego
If you need to feel important, call your Mom. She loves you and thinks you’re wonderful – but your ego has no place in the world of verbal or written communication.
2: The Purpose of Communicating is NOT to Impress Your Peers
Want to impress your peers? Become the best communicator on the block. And when that makes you a huge success, they’ll be impressed.
3: The Purpose of Communication is NOT to Achieve Notoriety, Fame, or Attention
See #2. Communicate well first, and you’ll get attention later.
You get the idea.
When you’re the one sending the message, communication is… NOT ABOUT YOU.
I mean, I still think you’re swell… but communication is all about the receiver: The listener, the reader, the audience.
1: The Purpose of Communication IS to Engage Your Audience
If you want to be an effective communicator, you have to pull your audience into your message… as opposed to pushing it on them. Think about the last crappy meeting you went to. More than likely if the meeting qualified as crappy, the message was just barfed out in your direction. Being pulled in and made a part of the message is MUCH more enjoyable and productive.
2: The Purpose of Communication IS to Connect With Your Audience
So many communicators make the mistake of using communication to assert their authority. Again, think pull vs push. When you legitimately connect with your audience and deliver value, the authority thing you’ve read so much about will happen naturally. Give them something that improves their lives. Show them you understand them and you’re there to help get somewhere they want to go.
3: The Purpose of Communication IS to Move Your Audience Forward
When you’re the one communicating your message, it’s less of a “I want to tell you about what’s important to me”, and more, “Here’s what I can do to help you.” When you communicate, give your audience something that leads them to take another step in a positive direction.
6 Weapons of “Pull” Communication
To be fair, I know you don’t intentionally try to boost your ego, impress your peers, or to gain notoriety when you communicate.
But when you lose focus on the real purpose of communicating, it’s easy to fall into those things. And I understand. Especially since there’s such underlying pressure to stand out and be noticed.
But the truth remains that the real way to get noticed is by serving. To serve, you have to pull your audience into your message and vision. And you need to provide them with something tangible that will help them take a positive step forward in their lives.
Here are six devices to pull your audience into your world and make the communication process useful and engaging for them…
Empathy, simply put, is walking in another person’s shoes. It’s demonstrating that you’re in touch with their thoughts, feelings, and their situation. You should sprinkle empathy liberally throughout your communication, but it’s especially powerful when you lead with it! Show your audience that you understand them early and often.
Weaving a good story into your message is one of the most powerful ways to connect with an audience. Storytelling takes your audience on an emotional journey that pulls them into your message and gives them a way to relate your message to their own lives.
Commonality is when you demonstrate to your audience that you have things in common with them. It’s been proven in study after study that people respond well to those who they believe are like them. Take the opportunity to share your common ground as often as possible. A word of caution: If you share personal deficits and weaknesses, share past ones… not ones you’re currently struggling with.
4: Clear, Common Language
If you’ve ever read a textbook written by an academic, you know why. Have you ever said to your friend, “Man, oh man – you HAVE to read this biology textbook!” Of course not. People don’t attend speeches or read your writing for the purpose of learning fancy new words. On the other hand, they also don’t want to hear dry, boring language.
Use clear but common language. When I’m reading my own work, I always ask myself, “Is this the way I would tell a friend about this topic over a beer?” And if it is, I know I’m on the right track. Stay conversational and show your personality.
5: Similes and Metaphors
Speaking of showing your personality, make sure to use similes and metaphors in your communication whenever possible. Metaphors are a direct comparison. “That guy’s a pig.” Similes use “like” or “as” to make a comparison. “He looked like a deer in headlights.”
They’re pretty similar devices, and technically a simile is a type of metaphor… but I’m not going to get all “English Teachery” on you. The bottom line is that comparisons help connect your audience with your message.
6: Provide “Next Level” Resources
When all’s said and done, leave your audience with tools and resources to take a next step. These could be handouts, links to websites, a book suggestion, or an assignment. Something to give them the ability to take what you’ve just communicated with them to the next level.
Again, the key to powerful communication is to pull your audience into your message, not to push your message on them. These 6 devices will help you genuinely connect with your audience.
Work them into your speeches, meetings, and articles from now on and watch what happens to your level of engagement.
Something Special for You
And speaking of Next Level Resources, I’ve created a free downloadable PDF of these devices for you called 6 Ways to Genuinely Connect With Your Audience for you to use as a guide when crafting your next communication.
So tell me…
Are you using these devices regularly now?
What other strategies do you use to pull your audience in and connect with them?
Tell me about it in the comments!