My client was unhappy. He’d just watched me present a two-day, leadership workshop at his company, and he had only one comment.
“You should have asked the group a simple question, over and over,” he said.
“What question?” I asked. I really had no idea. This happened long ago. Back then, I didn’t think of myself as clueless, but not thinking you’re clueless is probably one of the main signs.
Client: “What do these leadership skills have to do with selling more beer?'”
His question sounded like, “So what’s this got to do with the price of eggs,” an old, but odd expression, suggesting that some people, somewhere, are utterly obsessed with egg prices. Their attitude must be, “Nope, unless it’s about egg prices, we refuse to discuss it.”
My client didn’t care about eggs, and neither did the workshop group. They were sales managers, they sold beer, and what they thought about, all day long, was beer.
My mistake: forgetting the beer.
What’s your audience thinking about? Let’s assume they’re preoccupied with 10,000 things. That’s 10,000 reasons not to listen to you.
Unless you give them one. So give them one—with a purpose statement.
A purpose statement is not an agenda. Almost every speaker I work with has an agenda—that’s good—but a purpose statement is more important.
Agenda: “Today we’ll talk about the 7 practices of exceptional leaders, 3 big leadership mistakes, plus what the best leaders eat for breakfast—and, if it’s eggs, what’s the price.
Your agenda is the what. It says, “Here’s what I’m going to talk about.”
But it doesn’t give the why. “Why should we listen?” your audience wonders. “We’ve got our own concerns.”
Tell them why with your purpose. That’s the purpose of a purpose. (True, I’m saying “purpose” a lot. On purpose.)
Your purpose needs to speak to their concerns.
Purpose statement: “Our purpose is to help you sell more beer—by inspiring your employees to sell more beer. How will we do that? In one word: leadership”
Now give the agenda. And keep talking about the beer.
Tip: Before you tell them the WHAT, tell them the WHY.
© Copyright 2014 Paul Hellman. All rights reserved.