You see this in your inbox and your Facebook feed all the time, don’t you? I got it the other day from a money mindset maven who couldn’t wait to spread the word. “I am so excited to tell you that I’m going to be part of this telesummit …”
My reaction? “Why would I care if you’re excited? I don’t even know you.”
This is such a common mistake.
Coaches, consultants and business owners of all sorts flood our various communication channels with declarations like: “I’m excited to tell you …” “I’m thrilled to let you know …” “I am absolutely delighted to show you …”
And our reaction is a collective yawn. Why should we care if they’re excited or thrilled or absolutely delighted?
I figure my husband Frank, my sister Rebecca and my three best friends might care about my level of excitement. If they’re not too busy with something else right now.
The rest of the world couldn’t be less interested. So why would I write emails, articles or Facebook posts starting out with a fevered description of my emotional state?
Chances are you use the written word to promote your service or product, to invite people to an event, to enroll them in a program. Here’s a better way to do it.
Instead of starting out with “I am anything …” Begin with “You are …”
It completely changes the way your reader responds.
Business Wisdom from a Radio Show
When I did mid-days at a news-talk station in Cleveland, my co-anchor and I did a lot of human-interest type interviews. Light, sometimes fluffy, topics that were more about lifestyle than the big issues of the day. Ken and I called them the If-Yous.
Because our program director was always nagging us to start out with, “If you have pets …” “If your kids aren’t doing well in school …” “If you’re concerned about your family’s health …” Sheesh. “If you, if you, if you.” We mocked the guy unmercifully.
Turns out the program director was a genius.
Years later I read one of the most useful business books I’ve come across, The Agile Manager’s Guide to Writing to Get Action.
Which said this. “Always, always, always write from the reader’s perspective. To keep yourself focused, use ‘you’ instead of ‘I’.”
And this. “One good way to develop the You attitude is to begin your opening paragraph with ‘You.’ It is a can’t-miss reminder that what interests the reader might be far different from what interests the writer. You need the reader’s interest if you are going to be successful.”
If you read my newsletter very often, you already know that I took that advice to heart. And it has served me well as a writer and as a speaker. I work hard to frame the information I offer and the stories I tell in the context of you. Yes, you.
A Peek Behind my Curtain
So it was an awkward experience, being asked to promote a blog post that was all about – me. Hélène Stelian’s Next Act for Women features women who’ve reinvented themselves, creating a new career or even a new life.
When I sent Hélène my first characteristically concise pass at my reinvention story, she wrote back with a boatload of questions and demands for detail. “Okay, okay, if that’s what you want…”
But the blahblahblah about me so goes against the grain, it felt weird to promote the piece. So here’s how I handled social media:
“Ready for YOUR Next Act? You’ll discover a lot about starting over on the Next Act blog. (Some of it, from me.)” With a link to the article.
“If you’re not already in your second act, you ought to be getting ready for one. Check out my Next Act story. And you’ll find a lot of other tales of reinvention on the Next Act blog.”
What do you notice? Posts that are about ME begin with YOU. That’s a lot more engaging than writing “I’m excited to tell you that I’m featured in a blog this week,” isn’t it?
It’s Your Turn
Whether you write social media posts, sales letters or articles, you’ll get better results if you nestle your message inside the frame of your reader’s interest.
And what is your reader most interested in? (Hint: it’s not you.)
Ready to practice? Tell us how you’re going to use this make-it-about-them strategy. Bonus points if your post starts with “You …”
You hit the nail on the head! After years of being trained to communicate using “I” to avoid triggering defensiveness in a listener, NOW I’m being invited, encouraged and down-right ordered to “go for the emotions”! Thanks you for posting this. It really helps me see where I need to “get over myself”!
You’re more than welcome, Jackie. I’m so glad to hear that you found the article useful. I’m telling you, this “start with you” advice has been pivotal for me.