These 3 simple questions will improve your outcome in any situation
Lauren works in the tech sector and is launching a speaking career on the side. Her speaking topic is red hot right now, popping up in the media daily.
But when Lauren speaks, she gets a lukewarm response, not the rave reviews she’d like. She knows that she’s one of the leading experts in her field, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference to the audience.
It’s a situation I see over and over, across professionals, authors, speakers and entrepreneurs. They have great information – ideas and topics that interest people – but these would-be leaders just don’t make the impact they want.
Here’s the bottom line:
You can work day and night on your content.
You can polish the words of your speech until they sparkle.
You can agonize over each syllable in that magazine article or blog post.
You can spend hours carefully crafting each minute on that meeting agenda.
But information alone won’t move hearts and minds. It can still fall flat.
Some of the smartest people on the planet can’t keep an audience of one interested for 60 seconds. And what happens? No one listens to them. The real tragedy is that their brilliance doesn’t impact anyone else.
What can you do to guarantee a better outcome, to have more impact, in whatever you’re pursuing?
It’s simple. Before you go into any situation, ask yourself three powerful questions:
1. What’s my energy level?
2. What do I want to make sure happens here?
3. How do I want that other person/audience/reader to feel?
Let’s take each of these questions, one by one, to see why the heck they pack such a powerful punch.
1. What’s my energy level?
A truly ridiculous amount of your success in life is determined by your energy. Fact.
And no, I don’t mean whether you run or do Crossfit. I’m talking about the energy you give off during interactions. Energy in this sense boils down to how focused you are on the people you’re interacting with and what is happening in that moment.
When you’re distracted, or multitasking or carrying mental baggage from this morning’s minor road rage incident, your energy isn’t working for you.
I know, it sounds a little woo woo, but stay with me here! Energy – good or bad – is something that even the most left-brained among us respond to (even when we’re not aware of it!)
Think about it…isn’t there someone you know, who, just by being in his or her presence, makes you feel smarter, taller and better looking?
And then someone else who makes you feel exhausted every time you interact with them? That’s energy, baby!
And before you start ranting to yourself, “I’m not one of those loud, chirpy, manic people,” hold up! Energy doesn’t mean someone who’s boisterous and effusive. Energy can be quiet and intense, or calm and soothing.
It’s about being 100% engaged in what you are doing and who you’re with.
2. What do I want to leave the audience with?
This question is pure genius, no matter what situation you’re going into. And it works, even if your audience is one.
Here’s why: asking myself what I want to leave the audience with forces me narrow all my wide ranging ambitions and decide What’s Most Important. And then to structure everything else to meet those goals.
It’s easy to get distracted by details…the specific words you’ll use in your presentation or making d@$%@% sure your coworker doesn’t outtalk you during this morning’s meeting.
But the danger is that you lose sight of your bigger goal. That’s why it’s important to focus on what you want to leave your audience with – what’s the big idea?
When you focus on the big idea, you’ll think and act at a higher level. You won’t be distracted by things that don’t matter.
3. How do I want them to feel?
The most popular speakers and the most beloved leaders share something in common. It’s not that they say the most brilliant things. It’s that they make other people feel brilliant.
When you focus on how you want your audience to feel, rather than simply talking at them, you’ll make a bigger impact. And when you make others feel good, you’ll share much stronger connection. They will have a much more pleasurable association with you or your business.
Take your cue from Apple, which boasts the most profitable retail stores in the world. And all because they designed their entire experience around the question, “How do we want customers to feel when they walk into the store?”
Your fame boosting assignment:
Ask yourself these three questions when you’re prepping for a big presentation or speaking engagement.
And ask yourself these questions when you’re creating an agenda for an upcoming meeting.
And – sorry for blowing your mind here – ask yourself these questions when you’re just going to meet someone for coffee.
Today, pick one interaction and ask yourself these three questions. BOOM, you’re done! How easy was that? Fist bump, slow clap, etc.
Hi Lori; Thanks for sharing. I actually used these tips in a phone conversation with a representative of the national federation for the blind this week. he replied out of the blue from an email i had sent to the state president’s office. I focused on him and his questions and my desire for him to know who i am as much as what i do. as for your three points I have some thoughts there too. question one might have said passion or focus instead of energy. but the point is you need to believe in yourself and your message and feel you have what they need. question two you talk about what i remind my nephew of when he is studying. I tell him always make sure he knows what they are asking before he answers. and question three you are always better when you focus on the other person or your audience instead of yourself. concentrate on what they want and need and do your best to give it to them. at least that’s how i see it. thanks again and take care, Max
Hi Max, thanks for stopping by and for commenting. Kudos to you for using the questions during your phone call! I find that when I focus on those areas, I’m more effective, too, whether it’s a phone conversation, an interview or a formal presentation.
You made a good point about making sure you know what’s being asked before you answer. It’s easy to make an assumption that doesn’t serve the situation. And I could not agree more with your third point: “you are always better when you focus on the other person or your audience instead of yourself.” Focusing on the audience also helps you get over any jitters.
So true!! A couple of other things I try to remind myself is to make sure I am having fun. If I’m having fun, then my audience is more likely to too.
Also, I’ve been working hard at learning to speak from my heart. I have a science background and am used to presenting boring technical data. Now I have a message I am passionate about and need to make sure I plug into that passion (= energy) before I open my mouth. Not always easy but it’s getting better.
Thank you for all your great information and ideas!!
What a great distinction, Tina – making sure that you are having fun is a great way to bring your best energy to the event.
And you are so right about plugging into your passion while you’re sharing your information. It can seem strange, but it’s the one thing that people respond to most. I highly recommend the book Talk Like Ted by Carmine Gallo. It analyzes the most popular TED talks and distills the 9 factors they all have in common. (Spoiler alert: passion is one of them!)
Brilliance baby!! Energy really is 1/2 the battle! Bring and give what you want and remain open! These were strategies I discussed in my Ninja Networking webinar series!
Oooo, yes! Perfect for networking…great minds use the same great ideas, right?
This is brilliant! I can’t wait to share it!
Focus on the feeling! Fantastic!
I’m delighted that you found value, Dan. And thanks for sharing it on LinkedIn!
I liked this a lot… it’s all about you being at your fullest, and being open enough, and willing enough to put aside your own agenda to focus on the other person in any interaction. This was a wonderful reminder, thank you. Blessings!
You put it beautifully, Donna: “put aside your own agenda to focus on the other person in any interaction.” Too often, people are worried about themselves and what they plan to say. Putting the focus on the other person is a gift to you both.
Wow – I LOVE these questions! And I love that they work for everything else in life, too – not just presenting. I mean, think how the world would be if we all asked ourselves those questions before everything we did? Love it!
I think so, too, Emily! Just today, I had a coffee date with another business owner and I ask myself those questions before I arrived, to focus on the outcomes that would benefit us both.
I LOVE LOVE LOVE the third one ~ How do you want to make your audience FEEL!!! It will become my theme “song” when talking 🙂
You hit the nail on the head, Laura. How you make your audience feel is EVERYTHING.
Lori, these are three wonderful questions. The whole point is the audience, isn’t it? I forget that and have to remind myself that they are the point of the whole process. Thinking about how to make them feel brilliant is such a powerful thing, isn’t it. I’ve got to get me one of them, as J says to K in the movie “Men in Black.”
Yes, Lilia! I agree. Plus, focusing on your audience helps to quell the nerves, too, because you’re focused on your mission, not how you look or sound.
My favorite quote from your post today is “The most popular speakers and the most beloved leaders share something in common. It’s not that they say the most brilliant things. It’s that they make other people feel brilliant.”
I’m giving a big presentation this Tuesday. Thank you so much for these reminders – they are absolutely true and gems.
Thanks for stopping by, Frances. It’s true – I’ve seen speakers who are less knowledgeable about their topic than other experts engage and transform an audience by really engaging them. And I know that you speak from the heart, so I’ll bet that you rocked your presentation!
[…] I’m gonna quote myself here, “A truly ridiculous amount of your success in life is determined by your energy. Fact.” [Famous in Your Field] […]