You may have noticed this trend in my weekly notes to you. It certainly shows up in my Facebook posts.
Check this out – I just noticed my Facebook business page the other day:
- “Okay, I’ve been preoccupied with video lately. It’s because I know I should be doing more of it. You’re probably way ahead of me – here’s a tip we can both use.” – Friday
- “You might have seen my post about being uncomfortable with video. Here’s why. They showed this …” – Saturday
- “Where do you stand on high heels? …” – Saturday
- “You’ve probably seen the flurry of posts about last night’s Oval Office speech. Set aside the president’s content …” – Monday
What do they have in common? That’s right, it’s “you.”
Why am I pointing this out? Because so many business people post and write and speak about “I” instead of “you.”
I swear one of the most useful business books I ever read was a tiny little paperback I picked up at an O’Hare bookstore – Writing to Get Action. All about how to write business letters, proposals and reports. And the absolute most useful thing in it was this:
“Always, always, always write from the reader’s perspective. To keep yourself focused, use ‘you’ instead of ‘I.’”
That book took me back to my days as a news anchor at WERE in Cleveland. My partner, Ken Prewitt, and I used to mock the boss mercilessly. Because the program director was on us all day long to write news stories that began, “If you …”
The guy was smarter than Prewitt and I gave him credit for. Because starting a story with “If you …” really did engage listeners, draw them in and keep them listening. In the radio business, they call that TSL – time spent listening – and it’s golden.
All these years later, I’m often coaching my clients to switch the perspective of the talk they’re going to deliver to a professional group, association or Chamber. I encourage them to make their material much more about their audience, and less about the speaker.
Somebody told me the other day she planned to start a speech with her background and how she got to where she is today and why it’s so important. I suggested that she start, instead, with that bald guy in the third row. And what he’s going to do with the information she’s about to give him.
What does all this have to do with you? Or should I say “YOU”?
Whether you’re writing a letter, a social media post, or that talk you’re going to deliver … the more you write from your readers’ perspective, the more you will engage them, draw them in and keep them reading or listening.
And the more likely it is that you will persuade them to take your suggestions to heart, take the action you recommend and, ultimately, pay for what you have to offer.
As it says in Writing to Get Action, “Remember: Begin with ‘I’ and you lose. Begin with ‘you’ and you win.”
Here’s to many more wins for you in your writing and speaking.
As always you can comment below to tell us what you’re going to do with this suggestion.