Are You Talking To Me?: Your Audience, And Why Your Success Depends On Them


istock_000006304060xsmallMany people fail to appreciate the importance of clear, persuasive communication and presentation skills as part of the innovation process. But without these skills, your ideas will remain yours alone. Here is just one useful tip that can help you become a more masterful presenter.

When you are attempting to persuade someone to support your idea, whether in a casual conversation, heated debate or formal presentation, take a moment to consider who it is you’re speaking with – and most important, remember the WIFFM concept (What’s In It For Me – “me” being the person you’re trying to convince) as opposed to the HHMBI approach (Hey, Here’s My Big Idea!).

Example: You have a big idea for a new product or service that is radically different from that which your company currently offers. If your supervisor is conservative about risk, you’re objective should not be to tell him how radical and paradigm-shifting your idea is, but rather, how your idea will effectively differentiate your company in the marketplace, offset minimal risk with substantial ROI, and make your team (and its supervisor) look great in the eyes of management.

The first approach will significantly increase the odds of your supervisor's resistance. The second will make him far more inclined to support your idea. Why? Because you've considered WIIFM.

Here are 3 simple steps you can follow to help ensure your message is meaningful and valuable to your audience…

  1. Assess where the person you want to support your idea is coming from. Use your knowledge of the person and intuition to sense what their needs or goals might be.
  2. Consider how your idea can meet/satisfy their needs, or help achieve their goals.
  3. Present your idea simply and in a compelling manner, framing it in such a way that allows your audience understand (a common reference point)—WIIFM.

Remember, not everyone shares your agenda or your enthusiasm. They have their own goals. It is your job, as the champion of your idea, to help others see the value from their perspective.