A week ago I caught the latest installment of the Podcaster’s Roundtable, which is a group of professional podcasters who have a regularly scheduled show where the topic of the discussion is related to the podcasting industry. The group is lead by Ray Ortega and his peers. The discussion for this episode was the issue of asking for too much, or too many actions, from their listeners.
This practice of asking for ‘too much’ seems to be irritating to their listeners, which can be quite understandable. When you are in the position of being asked to do ‘too much’ the feeling of stress comes quickly. Any audience, not just listeners, can be stressed and become wary of the message.
I was able to share a concept with Ray during the show, which (to my surprise) he took and shared with his peers and listeners. The concept I shared was simply this: “Keep the call to action simple, yet gives you the most value from your subscribers.”
This concept comes from my experiences in marketing, but it is really derived from communication. When you can focus your own mind, you can focus the mind of others. Learning to focus can be a difficult practice to overcome, especially for a motivated and inspired individual. I’d like to break down my own practice for focus, and how it can be used to communicate an idea or message.
When an idea is fresh, it is typically very simple. It is at this raw state that the idea wants to quickly grow into many different directions, reinventing itself many times in your mind. The longer and further your thought process goes beyond that original, simple idea, the more complex understanding is required to communicate it.
So why is this an issue?
As an entrepreneur or business person, utilizing the talents of your peers and connecting with your audience is critical to a successful outcome. Without the ability to communicate and share an idea, in a way that is easily translated and relatable, the idea will not be realized beyond yourself.
When an idea, concept, or message can be focused, a greater understanding can be shared by all parties involved. Much like a photographer needs to focus the camera lens to see a picture clearly, so does a communicator to remove the blur and fuzziness of an idea. In addition, the audience has the opportunity to draw from its own conclusions and develop an idea into something much more.
Bringing focus back to an over-thought idea can be quite a painful undertaking. That is why it is far easier to keep an idea simple, and attach additional thoughts to it after my audience has a basic understanding of what I am trying to communicate.
A Simple Outline
I first start with an outline, much like you learned in grade school. Here is an example of how an outline brings focus to an idea:
- The Idea
- A detail point
- A benefit
- A potential outcome
- A benefit
- A detail point
The principle of the processes is to not have many bullets. The more bullets in the outline, the more you are expecting your audience to initially understand. You are also giving additional opportunities to lose your audience through confusion and misunderstanding. That is why it is very important to keep it simple. If your audience needs to know more, you can take them there in steps, but get the basic understanding out of the way first.
Focus your Ask
The flip side of communicating an idea or message, is getting a response. When the message has gone through and has been understood, the audience can feel the sense of value. Now it is up to the audience to return that value back to you. This is done by giving direction in the form of a command or question – designated the ‘Call To Action’.
You are making a commitment of communication to your audience, so ask for a commitment of communication from your audience.
Instead of asking too much or too little, ask for the right thing. How do you know what is the right thing to ask for? If you are leading your audience to a conclusion, which you should, you are preparing their reaction. So steer that reaction into value for you and your message.
Ask yourself, “What do I want from those in my audience who find value in my message?”
When your audience values you and your message, they are ready to give you what you deem valuable from them. Make it a simple process for your audience to deliver that value to you. If you want them to subscribe, tell them to subscribe. Don’t mix it with additional commands such as ‘Follow Me’, ‘Like This’, or ‘Vote Too’.
Focus on Focus
My advice to you, and to the podcasters, is to keep it focused. When you can keep communication simple, you build the foundation for more complex understanding down the road. Trying to rush the translation of an idea or give too many details can lead to misunderstanding, which can eventually lead to stress, lost time, and a disconnect in the communicating parties.
Use a simple outline to clean up your idea, concept or message. When it is easy to read, it is easy to follow and your audience can focus on being a great audience committed to your focused message.