Last time, we opened a conversation about an increasingly important skill called Expressive Power – which is your capacity to step out into the world and passionately and plainly convey the concepts and ideas that matter the most to you.
One of the most interesting questions that came out of our discussion was from participants who said “Isabel, I feel like I am pretty passionate and expressive already. It’s just that I don’t know how to say what I want to say in fewer words, and to say it in a way that the people I talk to get as excited as I do.”
I love this question for a couple of reasons.
First, it shows me that the person asking knows what they are here to share with the world, and is already doing their best to stay on message. They aren’t trying to package or present themselves as what they think they should be.
Second, I like this question because there is a real art to taking what we are passionate about and turning it into a message that can really land with our audience. And that’s what I want to talk to you more about.
There are three key skills you need to develop to make your passionate expression concise and audience-friendly: focus, structure, and relevance. Today, I am going to talk about focus, and next time I’ll talk about structure and relevance.
One of the biggest ways that passionate people derail their message, and their ability to connect to their audience through their communication is through a lack of focus.
So often, when I do an Online Message Review, where I look over someone’s web copy, I see enthusiasm, and excitement, and a desire to communicate something of value. But what is being communicated is getting lost in an outpouring of far too many ideas.
I might look at home page copy that talks about radiance, and inner beauty, and feeling more alive, and loving yourself, and the divine feminine. All wonderful concepts. And likely, all a part of this person’s work.
But, as a reader, I can easily get lost in the swirl of ideas. If I can’t quickly spot the main theme, the main story you are trying to tell me, I get overwhelmed or confused and I miss what you most want to tell me is possible for me to feel and experience.
All these great ideas might feel familiar, and loved, and beautifully intertwined to you, the business owner. But to me, the newbie, your reader, I can’t keep up. I can’t follow you so easily as you jump from one idea to the next. I need to you to lay out a clear path, one idea at a time, to help me see the picture of what you know you can help me know or feel or change in my life.
As a reader, I need you to know what the most important idea is for me to take away from your home page. What image or picture you want to leave me with.
If as the business owner, you leave it up to me, the reader, to pick out what matters, I am going to wander off, perhaps touched or inspired by what you had to share, but not clear enough or moved enough to take a next step.
And the answer is not what you might think, to take one narrow slice of what you do as say that’s what you do. That’s old business paradigm thinking.
No, you need to do something a little harder. You need to download the full menu of concepts and ideas that you work with, look closely and carefully at all of them, and then decide what is the story that contains those multitudes. What is the overarching story of change and transformation within which all the others can live. Of all the outcomes you love to deliver, which is the one that matters the most.
Without that focus, your prospective clients will be washed away by the intensity of your passion instead of being invigorated and invited into it.
Now, here’s the rub: seeing that overarching story can be very hard to do for yourself. It’s like asking a parent to pick a favorite kid. You love all your concepts and ideas and it can feel unfair to pick one to get all the attention.
We rarely see clearly for ourself what stands out. We dismiss our best ideas because of our own fear and judgement about them. We latch on to something that isn’t a true fit.
What you need is someone you can trust to encourage you to download everything first, who you believe is capable of truly understanding you and what you bring to the table. Who won’t try to fit you into a box, or package you as something convenient, but not in alignment with who you want to be.
And then someone who can give you compassionate feedback so you can spot in everything you said or wrote what stands out and what rises to the top. Who can help see within the complexity of what you want to share the broad strokes, the through line.
My clients comment that they appreciate how when they write pages of material, I would feed back the three or four things she wrote that stood out, that had the most life and the most energy.
One of the main reasons business people hire me is that they feel overwhelmed by all the ideas in their head. They can’t, as Andrea Lee described to me, “see the forest for the trees.” And they trust my ability to listen, to understand, and to make sense of what wants to come forward through them.
Finding the focal point for all your passionate ideas, and weaving them into one clear statement, the True Spirit of your Work, is the first step in creating your Book of Language and where we begin in my Words on Fire training.. In a small group, you’ll be guided to find that central theme and focus for your work, and you’ll receive not only my feedback but my help in finding the fresh, original language to make the story of what you offer come alive.