The Pitfalls of “I” and “We” in Communication
Have you ever gotten sweaty palms in a meeting or on stage? If you have, I want to share the simplest strategy to neutralize any fear of speaking. Dive into this article to discover the transformative power of audience-centric communication and unlock the secrets to being heard and truly understood.
The Overuse of “I”
“I have something very important to say.”
I’m joking. Nothing important for you can ever start with I.
“I am excited to be writing these words.”
“I am glad to have such an amazing readership.”
“I am so glad I get to share my value with you.”
I, I, I, I. Who cares what I think and feel?
We often start sentences with “I” to express our feelings and thoughts. But in doing so, we inadvertently center the conversation around ourselves. While sharing our experiences is natural, overusing “I” can make our messages seem self-centered, diminishing the value we aim to provide.
The Dark Side of “I”
“I have to impress the audience.”
“I have to win them over.”
“I have to make a sale.”
Have you ever started a meeting with these thoughts in your head? And has the meeting gone well or badly?
If you focus on your own performance expectations, you will never impress, win over, or make a sale.
The Misleading “We”
“We are a great community”
No, we’re not!
As one of my workshop participants once said, “There’s a lot of me in we.”
Be careful using “we” too much.
Sometimes, people use “we” to make others feel included where they don’t belong.
People use “we” to push people into things.
The term “we” can be a double-edged sword. While it’s meant to foster inclusivity, it can sometimes be used manipulatively, making others feel obligated or included in situations where they might not truly belong. The key is to use “we” genuinely and sparingly.
“What” is often more interesting than “I” or “we”
“Newsletters offer a great way to stay connected with your industry”
When I focus on the topic and not just on me or grouping you, I can explain… the actual thing. What is it? What does it do? Why is it helpful?
Ditch the “I”, avoid the “we”
Good communication starts where your ego stops, and you get into the topic.
The Power of Objective Communication
Your subject matter often holds more weight than the speaker’s feelings or affiliations.
“I” is a great way to start a personal story. But before I can involve my audience in my personal point of view, I need to establish clearly the message’s core value.
If I shift the focus from the topic at hand to the speaker, I could potentially alienate the audience. By centering the conversation around the subject, you ensure the message remains universal and relevant to a broader audience.
To truly resonate with an audience, it’s essential to prioritize the message over the messenger. By focusing on the “what” and delving into the heart of the topic, communicators can deliver impactful, insightful, and engaging content that stands out.
The Magic of Starting with “You”
Making Your Audience the Protagonist
We already ditched I, and we. Discovered that “what” has potential. Now it’s time to reveal the magic word that leads to great outcomes in meetings, talks, and interviews: you.
Your audience wants to feel seen.
They want to get value.
They are the protagonist.
They want to go on a journey.
By directly addressing your audience, you make them the story’s main character. This approach captures their attention and makes them feel valued and understood. By focusing on their needs, desires, and experiences, you create a bond that’s hard to break.
The Power of Storytelling in Business
Stories have always been a powerful tool for communication. By weaving your message into a narrative that revolves around your audience, you can drive home your points more effectively and leave a lasting impression.
The role of the story is to establish an enticing destination for your audience to reach and to guide them through each step of the way.
But this is not the only role of “You” that you can benefit from.
Overcoming the Fear of Public Speaking
The Root of the Fear of Public Speaking
Most of you fear the stage because you’re obsessing about your performance. You’re stuck in your heads.
There is a magic word that is guaranteed to stop your fear of speaking in public: You.
In this case, “you” refers to your audience.
If you stopped worrying about yourself and deliberately made your audience happy, your fear would disappear.
You wouldn’t worry about your performance if you trusted that you had a message they needed to hear.
Many fear public speaking because we’re too focused on our performance. We worry about how we’ll be perceived, whether we’ll make mistakes, or if our message will be well-received. But this fear often stems from a self-centered perspective.
The Audience is on Your Side
Remember, your audience typically doesn’t want you to fail. They’re rooting for you. By shifting your focus from yourself to them, you can alleviate much of the anxiety associated with public speaking.
Flipping the Perspective
The key to a successful presentation isn’t just about delivering your message but ensuring your audience receives it. This requires a shift in perspective. Instead of focusing on speaking, concentrate on how your audience is listening.
Our ego often becomes a barrier to effective communication. We get trapped in our thoughts, wondering how we’ll be perceived.
The key to a great presentation is focusing on your audience. Easier said than done.
Why is it so hard?
In theory, you need to flip the perspective.
Instead of you speaking to them, you should think about them listening to you.
But our ego gets in the way.
I wonder what they will think.
I have no way of knowing what they will want!
I am in my head. How can I be in theirs?
For today I will leave you with this conundrum. Follow along and I’ll come back to this subject soon.
Crafting Messages with Value
Every audience, regardless of the setting, comes with a set of expectations. They’re investing their time and attention and in return, looking for value. By consistently providing value to our audience, you ensure that your communication is always relevant, actionable, and beneficial. This builds trust and positions you as a valuable resource in your field.
Mastering audience-centric communication is more than just a skill; it’s an art. Moving away from self-centered narratives, embracing the power of “you” and flipping the perspective, we can forge stronger connections, deliver impactful messages, and truly make a difference in our communication endeavors.