When’s the last time someone listened to you. I mean, really listened.

Like, you could tell they were right there with you.

It’s rare, to have someone’s attention like that.

Even right now, I only have a share of your attention. And I’m holding on to it for dear life. 

Why? Because someone’s talking over your shoulder, your texts are going off like crazy, and you’re debating whether you should go get a coffee or not (I vote yes. YES TO COFFEE.)

I bring it up, about people listening, this because lately I’ve been doing a lot of speaking and speaking ABOUT speaking (solo presenter and moderator trainings), and to me it always comes down to this:

Attention is the MOST expensive resource we have. And if you want someone to pay you with it, you better earn it. 

When you get on stage (or on screen, or at the front of the room) your job is to give people a reason why they should KEEP PAYING YOU with their attention.

Ask yourself, why should someone listen to me, and what am I doing to earn that attention? 

It’s one of the things I’m thinking about as I prepare to speak to the women execs and emerging leaders at Hearst this week (which I’m very excited about).

And if your answer to that question is, “Because I have important information to share,”—well, I think you can do even better.

Going in with info is the low bar.

I say aim higher: Go in not just to give information, but to change their minds. 

Yes. EVEN if they didn’t know there was anything to change their minds about.

For instance, I give a keynote based on my TEDx talk, “Stop searching for your passion.” The assumption I’m working with here is that people DO think that if they followed their passions, they’d be happier, and then they worry that they haven’t picked the right passion or missed it altogether.

I start there, and overturn the idea, showing them how flawed it is, and why it’s profoundly unhelpful.

Anytime you get up to say your piece, a host of invisible obstacles, assumptions, anxiety, all kinds of clutter, get in the way. So the first job is to dismantle that stuff so that the path is clear. 

That is the critical heavy lifting for ANY public speaking effort.  Not just knowing why you’re there, but what this audience believes and how your insights can affect, or even overturn, that belief. That’s how to meet them where they are.

This has never, ever steered me wrong—but it’s a step most people skip.

ALSO, GOINGS-ON TO SHARE…

DO SOMETHING COOL!

> 30 DAYS ON THE PAGE

I’ve designed a 30-day audio program for you. Each day, open your email, hit play, listen, and WRITE. I’m with you the whole time. It’s 20 minutes a day to think clearly and go deep into your own work, no planning or obsessing or fretting. Find out more.

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