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How to Say Less so Your Audience Listens More

Here are 5 tips to being successful in saying less AND encouraging more listening.

The world is a terribly noisy place. We have more content pushed to us than ever. That, coupled with an attention-span crisis, is the reason people ignore us and listen less as we push more content.

We need to stop the madness. Just because most people are half listening, we have to resist the urge to talk twice as much. If we push more content, we contribute to the noise. And the problem!

Editing (saying less) is the answer. But a word of caution: IT’S REALLY DIFFICULT to accomplish (all while truly motivating, entertaining, and/or informing your audience).

Here are 5 tips to being successful in saying less AND encouraging more listening:

1. Know your audience.

Often we lose sight of who we’re talking to, in light of the intense desire of informing them what’s important to US. The moment the audience thinks this, they become skeptical and less likely to listen to our message. Truly know and love your audience. Create and name your personas and do whatever it takes to understand them.

2. Know their pains, concerns, and goals.

In tip 1, you named your audience (persona). Now talk to them, listen to them, and seek to discover what wakes them. The things that keep them awake at night and what is in their dreams. What’s top of mind to them! Your content must start where their minds are and then present content (quickly) that says you understand them. Do this, and they’ll pay attention — a bit longer.

3. Eliminate any unnecessary elements.

Now look at any content you’re presenting that really doesn’t matter to your audience. Remove as many words and concepts that aren’t critical to your overall message. Stop presenting something that causes people to ignore you — like repetition and redundancy. Once they start to ignore or scan, it’s more difficult to get their attention again. If you feel that they may be scanning (in print material), be sure to add eye-interruptors that bring people back into the content (like subheads, bolding, or bullet points).

4. Add a story, photo, or video.

These visuals truly are worth a 1000 words. So paint a good word picture (story), include/show a picture that extends the story, and even better, if you can, add an edited, short video that captures their attention and holds it longer than words can. That involves a good edited script, compelling b-roll, and quality lighting and sound. Remove all barriers to your message.

5. Ensure a call to action.

Often, the church seems to talk for the sake of talking. In the audience’s mind, they feel that THEY must figure out what to do with the content. ALWAYS tease the call to action as a solution to their needs (pains, concerns, goals) and be very clear what the next course of action is. And where they can go for more information (if desired).

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