A surprising communication lesson from Katy Perry, a publisher and a Hair Care Clinic

24th November 2015

My daughter was listening to the song ‘Firework’ by Katy Perry the other day.

The first line says “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?

And I thought: “No, I don’t actually”

So I stopped listening.

Then, I received a marketing email from a publishers titled “Are you a new author living near Croydon?”

My reply: “No. But I’m a best-selling author living near Liverpool”

(Sorry if that sounds a bit big-headed – but it’s true. My books have sold pretty well)

And perhaps my favourite of all…

I once received an email called “Looking for a hair makeover for the weekend?”

One quick glance at my photo will show why I didn’t think this email was meant for me.

The fact is, many communications start like this. With something irrelevant. Or dull. Or both.

But, if you want people to engage with you immediately, you have to start well.

When you do, you both feel better. They know why they should listen. So they do. And this improves your confidence as you deliver it.

But, when they think it’s irrelevant/dull/both, the opposite happens.

Everyone knows the importance of First Impressions. I guess that’s why, when I share this idea with people, they normally say “but my first impressions are always good.”

But are yours?

Or do you sometimes use:

  1. Boring intros – “Let me update you with everything I have been doing since we last met”
  2. Boring titles – “About us”, “Our experience”
  3. Boring words – “Agenda”, “Summary”….

Familiar, yes?

And hardly riveting, are they?

Fortunately, it is pretty easy to do it better; and therefore engage people better.

In fact there are only two steps:

  • Identify the #1 Thing they’re most interested in (the easiest way to know this is to ask them); and
  • Include this #1 Thing in your title/introduction

For example, let’s re-write the above three, assuming you’re talking to someone whose #1 Thing is to improve their competitive advantage:

  1. Interesting introduction – “Our key focus is to improve our competitive advantage. So, I’m going to update you with everything I’ve been doing to help us do this. And also what I’ll be doing next”
  2. Interesting title – “How our experience will help improve your competitive advantage
  3. Interesting words:
  • “Agenda” becomes “The purpose of our meeting:, after it, we’ll know some new ways to improve our competitive advantage
  • “Summary” becomes “So let’s look again at the main factors impacting our competitive advantage; and then decide what actions we’ll take to improve ours”

A great start doesn’t guarantee a great outcome, of course. The rest of your communication must be good too. But start badly, and you might well never recover.

My Tennis Coach’s top tip is that I should always practise my serve. Because, when I get it right, it enables me to dictate the point more than any other shot. In his words, ‘your serve is the only shot where you aren’t reacting to your opponent. So it’s the only shot you have 100% control over. Do it well, and they have to react to you. so it sets the tone for everything that follows’

When you communicate, is your First Serve – your title and intro – impressive enough? Or do you sometimes feel like you’re a plastic bag?

Action Point

Within the next minute, you’ll be communicating with someone.

What’s your recipient’s #1 Thing? Work out the best way to weave it into your title/introduction so that they engage immediately.

And, just as you can practise your First Serve, so too can you practise your return. Last week, someone said to me “I like the idea of your monthly videos. The trouble is, I have to wait a month for the next ones. Why can’t I get them all at once?”

This was my service return – something he wasn’t expecting…

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