In Investment, Marketing, Sales, Startup Management, Tools

How clearly do you get your message across?

Entrepreneurs constantly have to present their ideas to others in order to build relationships with customers and investors.  Using the question “Who cares?” can improve the effectiveness of communication, making it easier to find customers and investors and so to build a successful business.

I find the question “who cares?” really useful because it forces me to consider three key points in developing any communication:

  • Who is my audience?
    • Every conversation starts with some assumptions about the other party, and what they know already.
    • Making the right assumptions is important so I can give them enough information to understand my idea without repeating a lot of things they already know.
  • What are the bare essentials of my message?
    • Most audiences have a very short attention span.
    • It is important to tell your audience something that captures their attention quickly, and then to keep that attention with further relevant information.
  • How do I put it all together?
    • Messages are more compelling when they are given in context, especially in the context of a story.

My first draft of this blog post opened with the following text:

All too often entrepreneurs introduce their company with a rambling story about how they had their idea and started their business.  Much of that story isn’t relevant to the listener, who loses interest before they even find out what the product or service is.  I believe the question “Who cares?” can be used to test and improve communication”.  Let’s dissect this opening a, using the question “Who cares?”

  • “All too often entrepreneurs introduce their company with a rambling story about how they had their idea and started their business.”
    • “Who cares?” My intended audience is entrepreneurs.  Either they already know better, or they don’t see the problem.  In neither case have I got them excited – my intended
      audience is unlikely to care about this statement
    • “Who cares?” Is this vital to my message?  Not really, I want to talk about how to do better, not what happens now.
  • “Much of that story isn’t relevant to the listener, who loses interest before they even find out what the product or service is. “
    • “Who cares?” Do entrepreneurs care about “the listener”, an entirely abstract concept?  I doubt it.
    • “Who cares?” Is this vital to my message?  Not really, I want to talk about how to do better, not what happens now.
  • I believe the question “Who cares?” can be used to test and improve communication
    • “Who cares?” what “I believe”?  I have no great claim to credibility.
    • “Who cares?” about “improved communication”?  It’s an abstract idea.

So I rewrote the introductory paragraph, trying to use words that my audience would care about.  I replaced abstract concepts like “listener” with “customers and investors”, because I think entrepreneurs care about customers and investors.  I changed the flow to be more positive and to focus on the benefit – “making it easier to find customers and investors”.

This simple approach can be applied to anything from blogs to brochures and elevator pitches to presentations.  Just look at each line of text, put yourself in the place of the intended audience, and see if the question “who cares?” has a good answer.

I think that by asking “Who cares?” I managed to make my opening paragraph a lot more effective, but I am sure there is still plenty of room for improvement.

My challenge to you is to write an even better version using the same approach, and post it in the comments section below! 

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