If you are trying to truly communicate effectively, you need to really think about your audience. What are their thoughts? Their desires? Their goals? Their jargon? Their experiences? What do you think they want to get out of the interaction with you? While you can not predict or assume, you’ll need to put forth some effort in thinking about your audience before you craft your message. Be other-centered to accomplish your goals.
At the age of 12, my son knew enough about the desire for peace and quiet of his Mom and Dad to start with that when asking for video game time. If he started with “can I play video games now?” he likely would have heard a quick “no”. However, he caught us when we just sat down with our glasses of wine ready to relax for the evening on our front porch. So he started with our benefit.
“Mom and Dad, what would you say if I could guarantee an hour of peace and quiet where my brother and I don’t bother you at all?” My husband and I leaned forward to listen intently. A minute later, we agreed to his request.
A client was drafting a presentation to ask for a raise. She wanted to start with how badly she needed the money, which was ill-focused. She knew her supervisor’s priority was staying on budget while having a high performing team. We redrafted her ask and focused on the her performance, responsibilities and what a raise would allow her to accomplish with the team.
As a junior in college, sitting in my dorm room in Dubuque, IA, I needed to ask my parents if I could study abroad in Spain the following semester. First, I told my Mom that the program was very safe and run by a reputable program that was well-versed in working with American students abroad. However, approaching my Dad, I mentioned that my temporary relocation abroad would not cost one more penny over my current tuition. They both said yes. I knew what was important to each of them- safety and money.
What is the next communication situation where you will ask for an audience’s attention, time or resource? Start with what you believe is their goal. Whether you are in front of a one-person audience or a group of individuals- begin with their goals, experiences, use their language and weave your audience’s perspective into your message.
By focusing on your audience first, you increase the likelihood that they will lean forward and sincerely listen to you.
This is an excerpt of Meg’s new book, late 2023 publish date, “Put Your Big Girl Pants On…and Other Power Moves to Increase Influence.” Click here to be notified when this book becomes available. Simply complete the form with “book” in the subject line- and the only emails you will receive will be regarding the book availability!
Meg Bucaro is a communication strategist and college adjunct faculty who is passionate about positioning women for success by teaching them powerful communication behaviors. For more information on how to increase your credibility, likeability and influence, schedule a chat with Meg. or follow Meg Bucaro Communications on Instagram or Linkedin.