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.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Juliet April 4, 2014 at 5:11 pm

Hey, great to see you writing a newsletter again. I enjoy the humour with which you make your points. Relevance keeps changing and if we don’t keep up with the changes we risk becoming stranded. Thanks for the questions: I’m going to start using them right away.

Simon April 4, 2014 at 9:31 pm

It’s been too long between drinks… great to receive another relevant and valuable thought-piece. Thanks Daniel.

Uma Chopra April 4, 2014 at 11:54 pm

A lot of food for thought- great timing-relevant for me- thanks Daniel.

James Samuel April 7, 2014 at 8:28 pm

After pondering the possible answers to those questions, we then need to listen deeply to the ‘others’ in order to understand and test all our assumptions. Thanks for the update.

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