You say you’re not dealing with anyone quite like the President of the United States?
I say, in a way we’re all like him. And we can learn something from the way the president’s people prepared him for his first foreign trip.
There was a lot to learn before Donald Trump and his entourage left Washington for Saudi Arabia and points beyond. The people whose job it is to make sure he learned it had a challenge on their hands. Trump is famous for his short attention span.
Fortunately, the folks at the National Security Council have figured out how to help the president focus on intelligence reports preparing him for a NATO meeting.
They put his name in the reports. A lot.
Maybe you saw the stories about National Security Council staffers including the president’s name in their intelligence reports. Reuters says they shoot for a Trump reference every paragraph or so because he keeps reading if he’s mentioned.
Those italics are mine.
I want the NSC strategy to sink in because I’m convinced the rest of us differ from the president only by degrees. Everybody responds to their own name.
Once in a while I do a program on persuasive language. I always say the most magical word in the English language is your name. The word “you” is a close second and a good substitute when you’re writing or talking to more than one person at a time.
The roots of name appeal go way back to even before you can consciously remember. Picture Mommy and Daddy cooing over your crib, murmuring your name in that special voice parents have for adorable babies as they pick you up and cuddle you. Music to your tiny little ears, right?
And as you learned to distinguish yourself from Mommy and Daddy—and everybody else—your name became part of your identity. A big part.
People get attached to their names. Hearing your name literally lights up parts of your brain; it can be seen clearly on an MRI. And hearing your name mispronounced or intentionally distorted is jarring, even annoying.
It makes sense, then, that if you want somebody’s attention, using their name would be a good way to get it. And keep it.
Those NSC staffers are on the right track with Donald Trump. Put his name in every paragraph to keep him reading what they want him to know.
How can you use the same strategy with your clients or prospects…or your colleagues?
Every proposal, every letter, every email should focus relentlessly on your reader and the value you offer them. Using their name—or the word “you”—is the best way to keep their focus. And to keep your focus where it belongs.
Same thing goes for a presentation, a sales conversation, a meeting of any sort. The more you’re talking about them instead of you, the more impact you will have on your listeners. And the better your chances of success.
There’s one more thing to take away from stories about Donald Trump and the upcoming NATO conference.
To prevent presidential distraction, they want to keep the meetings moving.
Foreign Policy says, “The alliance is telling heads of state to limit talks to two to four minutes at a time during the discussion.”
Of course that makes some diplomats grumpy. The magazine quotes one guy calling the keep-it-short directives ridiculous: “It’s like they’re preparing to deal with a child.”
Maybe. Or maybe they’re preparing to deal with a very busy person who has a lot on his mind and many things to think about other than the person yammering in front of him.
Sounds about like every meeting you’ve ever been in, doesn’t it?
Yes, some people want, and even need, more detail. And you should be prepared to give it to them. But it’s a good idea to start with short-and-sweet.
Bottom line? Picture President Trump when you’re planning business communication.
Capture the person’s attention by personalizing what you say or write. Use their name. And use “you” more than “I.”
Keep their attention by disciplining yourself to give them only as much as they need to hear instead of what you need to say. It might be satisfying to drone on about your service, your product or your brilliant background. But it’s not likely to get you the outcome you want.
Tailor your message for your listener or reader and you’ll get better results.
Ready to practice? Post a comment below to tell us (briefly!) what you offer and why we need it.