When you first start talking about your mission—your big idea—you may well twist yourself into a pretzel trying to make your point.
You experiment with different audiences (oh, start-ups see this differently than more mature companies), play with messaging (I won’t say THAT again) and more.
Later, when you start hitting the speaking circuit, you’ll find your rhythm—the core material that becomes the nucleus of your speech, with add-ons specific to each audience.
But here’s the thing: you can’t afford to get complacent.
Your long-term audience keeps getting more sophisticated about your message, while your new tribe members are just starting to engage. New “competitors” come into the space and claim a piece of territory adjacent to yours.
Which means that to keep growing and engaging your audience, you have to stay fresh, relevant and nimble.
Whenever you “speak”—whether that’s in your content, in your one-to-ones or to groups—try focusing on three things.
Tell a story. If you’re actually giving a platform speech, opening with a story—exactly the right one for your mission/expertise and the audience—works beautifully for a reason. It humanizes your topic (and you) and opens with a bang.
But well-told, well-timed stories also come in handy everywhere else you’re trying to help your audience better understand what works (and what doesn’t). We humans are wired for stories and we’re much more likely to remember your best ones than we are a list of PowerPoint bullets.
Bake in your special sauce. Think about all the experts who play in your space or those adjacent to it. 90-95% of their message may be similar to yours—different words, but ultimately the same bottom line.
So it’s that 5-10% where your power to transform your audience—and bind them to you—lies. Use it.
Say you have an affinity with the CEO’s of tech start-ups selling SaaS products (you used to be one). That’s a piece of your special sauce, so speak their language. Drop the pearls you learned from walking in their shoes into all that you do.
Maybe your special sauce is your take-no-prisoners style when coaching CFO’s. Water that down at your peril—the second you start sounding like everyone else, you’ve lost the edge that delivers your ideal clients to your door.
Use visuals to make your point. Just like natural storytellers, the visually fluent have an advantage when it comes to communicating big ideas.
A single, thoughtfully chosen image speaks volumes.
Luckily, you can be visual without being an artist—just invest a little time curating the right images to match your ideas, your brand and your audience.
But why limit yourself to your content and your website?
You communicate by how you carry yourself, the clothes you wear, the visible tech you use, even the background sprouting from your webcam says something about what it’s like to work with you. Use every tool at your disposal to align your visuals with your message.
Speaking about your mission to engage a long-term audience is a process, not a single event. Experimenting is what will keep it—and you—fresh and relevant.