The best advice to give someone desperate to lose weight

27th May 2014

What’s the best advice to give someone desperate to lose weight?

The answer seems easy, yes?

Eat less. Do more.

But do you know what? They probably already knew that.

Their problem isn’t knowing what to do; it’s actually doing it. And why aren’t they doing it now? Well, it could be for all sorts of reasons: they drink too much alcohol, they eat the wrong stuff and/or at the wrong time, they just love food, they have a medical condition, and so on.

So, given this, what is the best advice to give them?

Well, there’s no way of knowing. “Eat less. Do more” certainly won’t cut it.

Instead, we need to follow two steps:

  1. Ask questions, so we understand their situation; and then
  2. Give advice, based on their answers

Now turning those thoughts to other situations, how would you respond when:

  • A colleague says “I’m presenting to the Board. What’s the best thing for me to include in my presentation?”
  • A friend says “My husband and I are arguing a lot. What’s the best way for us to stop?”
  • A member of your team asks “What’s the best way for me to improve at X?”
  • A potential customer calls and asks “What’s the best way you help my business?”
  • A colleague in Sales asks “What’s the best way for me to win more business?”

If the answers seem obvious to you – “Just say X; do Y” – they’re probably obvious to them too. And it would be all too easy to give an “Eat less. Do more” answer.  And yes, this answer might help. But it almost definitely won’t be enough. So, it’s important to follow the two steps above:

  1. Ask questions so we understand their situation, like
  • Can you tell me more about your situation?
  • What do you want to achieve?
  • And how will you know you’ve achieved it?
  • What do you think is most likely to work?
  • What are you most concerned about?
  1. Give advice, based on their answers

I can’t tell you the best way to lose weight. Or communicate better. Or do anything until I know enough information, so I give the right advice.

And, unless you know exactly what’s going on with someone’s situation, neither can you.

Good news: a few quick questions will help you both.

Action point

Build a short list of questions you can ask in response to someone’s request for advice (the five above are a good start). Use these the next time someone asks for your help.

And, of course, if it works…do it every time!

And one final thing: here’s a great way to improve your presentations… There’s a new book out called The Presentation Lab by Simon Morton. It contains loads of great ideas – including lots you won’t have thought of (so no ‘eat less; do more’ advice!) – about how to wow audiences. I really liked it. You can find out more here

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