If you want people to care about what you’re telling them, frame it in a way that’s relevant to them. Whether you’re telling a story, writing an email, or pitching an idea, if you don’t tell people why you think they should care, they’ll likely tune you out.
We can refer to relevance in a number of ways. We can call it “importance” or refer to it as the “WIIFM” (What’s in it for me?). Whatever we call it, unless we make a concerted effort of articulating relevance in terms of our audience, we’ll likely frame it from our own point of view. It’s just human nature: “Let me tell you why I’m so excited about this idea!” Or, “Let me tell you what our team does really well.”
While our family members and significant others might kindly pay attention to what we have to say simply by virtue of who we are to them, in business the audience is much more goal oriented. They want to hear—quickly—how whatever you’re communicating relates to them. As they start reading your message or listening to you, they’re also thinking: “OK, how can this help me?”
More than likely, if you’re communicating with someone for something work related, it’s because you think it’s relevant to them. The problem is that we don’t always do a good job of articulating that relevance explicitly in our communications. Maybe we feel “it should be implied.” Well, regardless of whether the relevance should be implied, it’s often not understood, so we should make it our business to make sure that the audience doesn’t miss it.
This Inc.com article by Alison Davis articulates very nicely how you need to frame messages in terms that matter to your audience. In the piece, Davis shows us how she’d modify a piece of direct mail solicitation—from the subject line to the body of the email—to make it more persuasive and relevant to the intended audience: a good exercise that we can apply to any business communication.
The next time you’re crafting a message or having an important conversation at work, don’t just assume that your audience will figure out how it relates to them. Take the time to clearly and explicitly articulate to them why you think they’ll care.
Guillermo Villar is principal coach with Cambio Coaching. He helps high-achieving individuals and teams communicate with intention to get the business results they want. If you’re interested in working with Guillermo, sign up for a free meeting to explore how he can help.