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Relevance

by Daniel Batten on April 3, 2014

Trying to influence people without relevance is like trying to conceive a child by shaking hands: a waste of your energy in return for no fun and no result.

Yet sadly, most people have little idea how to make themselves relevant to their audience. In fact, of the 693 people I’ve worked with on influencing skills over the last four years – only two of them came with more than a basic understanding of how to be relevant. This included CEOs, CFOs, sales managers, solopreneurs, seasoned enterprise sales professionals and speakers.

The culprit is the information age. While it has many benefits, it’s also a plague that’s afflicted almost everyone with information-itis which has disabled their ability to be relevant. Chances are you have this affliction, and the only reason it hasn’t occurred to you that this is a root cause of underwhelming revenue is because everyone around has the same affliction.

What that means is that a large percentage of the business conversations or presentations you are having are likely to be wasting your time, and the time of the people you are talking to.

The symptoms of this affliction are not small – they are big. I’ve seen colleagues lose their jobs, women lose their career momentum, men lose their purpose, visionaries lose their dreams, peers lose their businesses and my father lose his life because of a lack of relevance. Moreover, almost everyone loses their most scarce, most precious, most non-retrievable resource: time.

There are 7 steps to curing yourself of informationitis and becoming relevant. The starting point for turning this around comes from asking yourself a different set of questions. Before you start planning any important meeting, business conversation, sales call or presentation ask yourself:

“Who’s my audience?”
“What do they need to hear?”
“Why would they decide to believe me?”
“Why wouldn’t they believe me?”
“What do they care about?”
“At the end of the conversation, what would I like them to think, feel, do?”
“Why would it be an advantage to them to think/feel/do this?”

Let me guess – you don’t have time to do this?

Leaving that bit out in order to “save time” is like saying “I need a quick shower, let me save time by getting in now without taking off my clothes”: foolish and counterproductive to your likely intention of a good clean result.

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  • No allure
  • No authenticity
  • No alignment

Miss out these 3 and nothing else you do really matters. Because no-one will remember, care about, or listen to what you said anyway.

Here’s 3 ways to start solving these issues.

 

Visual aids: create allure
What most people do: destroy the allure of your message with a sleep-inducing use of visual aids.
Root cause: Copying what you’ve seen others to – not what works.

First steps to solution: If you want to know what works and you can’t afford to pay to find out, check out a Scott Harrison pitch – notice the formula he’s using and copy it.

Content: create authenticity
 
What most people do: Information over relevance
Root cause: Focus on What you want to say” not what they need to hear”

First steps to solution: Turn preparation on its head by getting out of yours. Practice talking with others – not writing by yourself to see what’s working. Start this early.

Structure: create alignment
 
What most people do: Assume a greeting at the start, a few points in the middle, and a summary at the end = structure.
Root cause: not considering how their audience needs to hear information, and in what order

First steps to solution: Answer the 3 questions “why this, why you, and why now?” in that order before you say anything else.

There’s more to it than that. But that’s a good starting point. Remember authentic doesn’t just mean “be yourself” it means also “acknowledge that you are in a dialog with others when you present.” Failure to acknowledge this, and going off and doing your own thing without consideration for how others need to receive information is one of the most inauthentic acts you can commit in a profession.

If you forget about your audience at any stage of the preparation,  they will reward you in kind by forgetting about you during it.

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