Good comms insights from Susan Boyle and Anne Hathaway

12th March 2013

When Susan Boyle sang “I dreamed a dream” on Britain’s Got Talent, millions of people became swept up in her story.

I read countless articles talking about the appropriateness of the song – “Susan dreamed a dream, and her life was transformed forever”, and so on.

But the song actually isn’t about dreaming happy dreams. As anyone who’s seen Anne Hathaway’s harrowing rendition of the same song in the recent Les Miserables film will know, the words are about her devastation and despair about how things have turned out for her.

Which goes to show how impactful titles are. They’re our first impression. And, if we don’t read on, they’re our only impression.

Think of the titles you see every day at work – emails (“FYI”, “misc”); meetings (“update”, “progress”); presentations (“Q2 review”, “our credentials”); documents (“our proposal”, “risk analysis”) and slides “background”, “summary”)…

Now think of the titles you see outside work – impactful newspaper headlines, eye-catching adverts, interesting-sounding TV and radio shows, books you simply have to buy based on the title alone…

The latter list is so much better. That’s not the way it has to be. It’s just the way it is.

So, make your titles at work better. Include something that grabs and/or benefits the recipient.

When you do, they’re more likely to read it.

When you don’t, they might not read it at all. This makes your title their only impression of your communication – not the impact you intended.


Action point

When you close this email, look at your Sent Items to see the standard of your titles.

And/or look at today’s diary, to see which entries sound interesting.

This helps you see how others view your titles. Then, of course, if you think they should be better, improve them.


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