My friend's daughter was listening to the song ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry the other day.
The first line says “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?”
And I thought: “No, I don’t actually”
So I stopped listening.
Then, I received a marketing email from a publishers, titled “Are you an aspiring author living near Cambridge?”
My reply: “No. But I am a published author (who's book consistently achieves comfortable sales in its category) living in Barcelona”
(Sorry if that sounds a bit big-headed – but it’s true. My book gets consistent downloads from not only foreign language learns, but native English speakers as well)
And perhaps my favourite of all…
I once received an email called “Are you embarrassed about your male pattern baldness?”
One quick glance at my photo will show why I didn’t think this email was meant for me.
The fact is, many communications start like this. With something irrelevant. Or dull. Or both.
But, if you want people to engage with you immediately, you have to start well.
When you do, you both feel better. They know why they should listen. So they do. And this improves your confidence as you deliver it.
But, when they think it’s irrelevant/dull/both, the opposite happens.
Everyone knows the importance of First Impressions. I guess that’s why, when I share this idea with people, they normally say “but my first impressions are always good.”
But are yours?
Or do you sometimes use:
- Boring intros – “Let me update you with everything I have been doing since we last met”
- Boring titles – “About us”, “Our experience”
- Boring words – “Agenda”, “Summary”….
And hardly riveting, are they?
Fortunately, it is pretty easy to do it better; and therefore engage people better.
In fact there are only two steps:
- Identify the #1 Thing they’re most interested in (the easiest way to know this is to ask them); and
- Include this #1 Thing in your title/introduction
For example, let’s re-write the above three, assuming you’re talking to someone whose #1 Thing is to improve their competitive advantage:
- Interesting introduction – “Our key focus is to improve our competitive advantage. So, I’m going to update you with everything I’ve been doing to help us do this. And also what I’ll be doing next”
- Interesting title – “How our experience will help improve your competitive advantage”
- Interesting words:
- “Agenda” becomes “The purpose of our meeting:, after it, we’ll know some new ways to improve our competitive advantage”
- “Summary” becomes “So let’s look again at the main factors impacting our competitive advantage; and then decide what actions we’ll take to improve ours”
A great start doesn’t guarantee a great outcome, of course. The rest of your communication must be good too. But start badly, and you might well never recover.
My Tennis Coach’s top tip is that I should always practise my serve. Because, when I get it right, it enables me to dictate the point more than any other shot. In his words, ‘your serve is the only shot where you aren’t reacting to your opponent. So it’s the only shot you have 100% control over. Do it well, and they have to react to you. so it sets the tone for everything that follows’
When you communicate, is your First Serve – your title and intro – impressive enough? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re a plastic bag?
Within the next minute, you’ll be communicating with someone.
What’s your recipient’s #1 Thing? Work out the best way to weave it into your title/introduction so that they engage immediately.