I sat in the meeting and watched with wonder as results coaching client Kate delivered the script exactly as we had designed it:
P with X and Y, then B with E.
You see, Kate is a talented professional in her chosen field. She has a deep background in research and on-the-job experience. But due to the mainly technical nature of her work, she’s had few opportunities to stand and present findings and recommendations. She knew if she could just get past those first few minutes of panic when speaking publicly, she’d be fine. And that’s where the short script came in.
Here are the three simple statements she delivered to start.
- Purpose: “The purpose of this presentation is (help X do Y)…”
- Benefit: “The benefit to you (or the organization) is…”
- Example: “An example of how this worked from another organization just like ours is…”
P with X and Y, then B with E.
Sorry. Too many letters. So let me break it down.
P = Purpose
When we state Purpose in any communication, we are telling the listener or reader exactly how to think about what they are about to witness. People’s thoughts are naturally scattered. All of us have a constant buzz of distractions from emails, deadlines, pre-meeting conversations and a long list of other variables.
Clearly stating “Purpose” brings focus to all present. It answers the critical question “Why are we here?” – a question that often gets missed or misunderstood if not stated clearly.
In it’s simplest form, simply fill in X and Y. “We’re here to help X (you, our customers, other stakeholders) address/solve Y (statement of need, problem, job requirement, frustration).
Now everyone understands exactly what we’re up to – our collective Purpose in that very moment.
B = Benefit
Every listener or reader has one thought in common: “What’s in this for me?” It’s not a selfish thought; it’s just the way we’re wired as listeners. And it’s such an easy question to answer. Just tell them how they personally will benefit. With as much precision and clarity as possible.
“The benefit to you is a possible increase in free cash flow of 15 to 17 percent in the first 60 days”
“The benefit to us is full compliance with federal lending regulations and the avoidance of additional penalties”
“The benefit to you is fewer hours to complete the required tasks – and more time available for whatever other tasks are on your plate that day.”
Did you notice that in each example, I clearly say the words, “The benefit is.” Again, we’re telling the listener or reader exactly how to think. Not because we’re smarter than them or trying to manipulate them. Just to save them time and mental energy by providing a clear path to what’s important – TO THEM!
E = Example
In my live seminars, I say that the two most powerful words in business communication are “For Example”.
Examples that illustrate the benefits of our ideas make arcane business metrics like cash flow, ROI, customer satisfaction ratings and a thousand other commonly used measures come alive in the listener’s or reader’s mind.
Metrics become visual as the listener or reader can ‘see’ the results obtained by others just like them.
“For example, our western division started using this idea earlier this year. After 90 days, their results exceeded expectations by 200%. And as our top performing division, their year-end bonuses reflected that major jump in results!”
Here’s a hint just for you. Use an example that shows a clear, measurable transition from their prior results to the potential Better! Results. 200% improvement catches every listener’s ear and every reader’s eye.
Wonder why? Because transition stories sell. (Just watch 3 or 4 commercials on television or a past episode of the Oprah show, and look for just how powerfully visual transition stories engage the brain and hold attention).
Better! Results Challenge
I have a simple formula for any new idea: “Try B4 Toss”.
At your next meeting, try the script outlined above. Create your own tailored version, and definitely practice out loud in advance. Work it over and slim it down. Once you’re comfortable with the purpose, benefits and example statements you’ll use, it should only take about 30 to 45 seconds to deliver.
After the meeting, use a few minutes of quiet analysis to judge if this technique helped get your message across. More important, judge whether listeners paid better attention and were more focused on solutions.
Let me know if it works for you.