Here’s a funny story.
The CEO of a technology company I worked for often held all-day meetings with his senior executives. As the company’s writer, I also had a seat at the table.
Late into the evening of one of these marathon sessions, a vice president, who hadn’t left the room all day and had passed on all of the unhealthy snacks on the table, stood up and headed for the door.
CEO: Where are you going?
VP: I’m starving. I’m going to go grab a snack and bring it back.
CEO: How can you be hungry? I just ate.
“How can you be hungry? I just ate.” That was the greatest line I ever heard in any of these meetings.
Not many of us are as self-centered as that CEO. But in our writing and speaking, we are often too “me-focused.”
It is important to understand, though, that your readers come to every issue from their own points of view. They’re “me-focused,” too.
So if you want to connect with your readers and convince them to see things your way, your best strategy isn’t to try to refocus their attention onto you, but rather to join the internal dialogue they are already having about themselves.
In other words, use the word “you” wherever possible in your writing.
How to create “you-focused” writing
Our natural tendency is to think, speak and write from our own points of view. So when you’re writing, step back periodically and review your words from your reader’s perspective. Look for signs of “me-focus” and flip them into “you-focused” writing.
I thank each of you for attending our convention-planning kickoff today. I think we had a productive meeting and I appreciate all of the valuable insights I heard and enthusiasm I saw. I welcome any additional ideas and suggestions anytime.
Thank you – each of you – for making today’s convention-planning kickoff so productive. Your insights and enthusiasm are going to make this an outstanding event.
Please keep up your great teamwork and creative thinking. If you have any more ideas or suggestions, please send them to the team.
Seems like a small adjustment, doesn’t it? The message is largely the same in both cases, so is it even worth this extra effort? Yes, it is.
If you apply these subtle changes in focus to your writing – taking the spotlight off of yourself and placing it onto your readers – you will find that your audience reads your writing more closely and carefully. The focus will be on them, after all, so of course they will pay closer attention. You will also find that your readers respond to your words, and the ideas contained in them, much more positively.
Remember, to a self-focused reader – which includes most of us – “you,” “your” and “you’ll” are the most welcome words to hear aside from our own names.
So be “you-focused” in your writing. People will notice, they’ll appreciate it, and they’ll see you as an effective communicator.
This is me, I, Robbie Hyman, signing off.