[Say What You Do Better] Lesson Three: Land Your Big Ideas with Concrete Details

My clients are people with big ideas: visionaries, idealists. People who can see better ways that we can be in the world.

So big ideas come naturally to them and to their way of speaking. They want to talk about empowerment, or transformation, or expansion. They want to talk about living from the sacred. Knowing beauty.

And that’s great. We need big ideas, important concepts, moving visions in our world.

The danger though is that that kind of language, those words, while meaningful to you, can make what you offer feel heady and insubstantial to an audience.

Your audience digs what you are saying and nods their heads, but they may not really get it. It’s like breathing too much oxygen. They don’t get that “kerchunk” of understanding, like the sound and sight of a rock falling into a pond, of what they would feel and experience if they stepped into your world.

So, if you want those big ideas, those key concepts, those beautiful visions that are part of your work to land, you have to amp up your capacity to add concrete details that bring those ideas to life. That paint a picture of what it looks like, feels like, sounds like when someone gets the outcome you are promising.

That’s what gets someone in your audience to say “oh, OH. I get it. I want that!”

So let’s say your work is about empowering women. That’s big and broad. What does that really mean?

You can describe it in sensory terms: I help women feel a rush of energy from the ground up to the top of their head that moves their beautiful bodies into motion making art, making waves, making love.

You can give a snapshot or a specific scenario where “empowerment” shows up: I help women stop waiting for approval and start asking for the projects and the pay raises they deserve at work. I help women develop the courage to tell their partners how they want to be touched and how they want to be loved. I help women let go of being perfect mothers and start planning a much needed road trip with a friend. (Hint: you aren’t looking for a UNIVERSAL example, that doesn’t exist. Come up with three or four DIFFERENT scenarios that tell the story. Think about the different, specific things that have happened for your clients.)

A great way to access this is to ask “how would I know?”. How would I know a woman was newly empowered? What would she do? Say? How would she move differently? What actions would she take?

The fear is that if we are too specific, people won’t relate.

But I think we underestimate the power of the human brain to extrapolate. To take a very specific scenario or description, and imagine variations on that theme. “Oh, for me, it wouldn’t be planning a road trip, it would be clearing out that junk room and turning it into an art studio!”

My work is helping people put words to their biggest deepest message and their innovative wisdom so they can create profoundly valuable offers, creative programs, and heartfelt marketing.

What does that look like?

It looks like a client finishing the business consulting web site she’s been working on for literally years and being delighted with it.

It looks like clients getting hired just from what someone read on their web sites, people calling them saying “I knew from what you wrote you were my person”.

It looks like a client smiling broadly saying, “you helped me say the thing I’ve been trying to say for years but couldn’t find the right words for.”

It looks like clients saying “my husband finally understands what I do.”

I’ve heard some copy writing coaches say “Be concrete not airy fairy.” And that makes me sad. Airy fairy (big, abstract, conceptual) isn’t bad. We need big ideas and big dreams and magnificent possibilities. We don’t want to lose airy fairy. We just don’t want airy fairy hanging out by herself, blowing in the breeze.

We want to land those big ideas with concrete details so they come to life. So they spark pictures and sounds and body sensations in the minds of the people we are talking to. So they come down to earth and become flesh, like good friends from college we haven’t seen in a while, walking towards us with a cool drink in their hands.

1. Remember, you can’t do it wrong (Lesson One). If you are showing up, and trying something new, you are doing it right.

2. Plan on working on this for 20-30 minutes if you can. If that’s too much, do 10 minutes.

3. Find or write a statement about what you offer or what people get from working with you. Don’t craft it. Just try to get the right idea or concept. Don’t worry if anyone gets it.

4. Set a timer for 2-8 minutes at a time depending on what works best for you.

a. What does it look like? What does it look like when someone gets the thing you offer? What do they do differently? What actions become possible that weren’t before? What do they say?

b. Specific. What is a specific example of someone getting the thing you do, specific to one person, that becomes the example of what is possible?

c. What else could it look like? What other examples can you give that show rather than tell someone getting the outcome you promise.

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