Tell-Dont-Sell

American theatrical producer David Belasco once said, ““If you can’t write your idea on the back of my calling card, you don’t have a clear idea.”

You could have an idea that will change the future of the human race. But if you can’t explain the idea so that others understand, it will never get off the ground.

In today’s world of in formation overload, you have very little time to make your voice heard and your idea memorable. It’s difficult to “sell” yourself when the person you are talking to gets lost in a jumble of information.

That’s why you need to tell, not sell. 

People don’t want to be sold. They want to be told a story. Engage your listener with a conversation, not a presentation, because a successful conversation takes two people.

Here are three key indicators that you are engaging someone in meaningful conversation:

  •  During stories, a listener asks, “What happens next?” During YOUR story, a listener should also ask to hear more.

Relevant questions mean that your message is coming in clear. You’re expressing your idea in a way that is being understood. The listener wants to hear more because they’ve processed the information you have given them.

  •  Is there a back and forth repertoire?  

People will be naturally more interested in what you’re saying if they are allowed to interject with their own stories, ideas, and commentary. A good conversation is going to allow both parties to have their say.

  • Are you still talking about the original subject?  

If you’re trying to tell a potential investor about your product idea, you don’t want to suddenly find yourself talking about how much you love golden retrievers. Even when having a conversation, you should have a goal in mind, and you should stay on target to achieve that goal.

When you tell instead of sell, others will have a clear sense of what matters to you and those things will begin to matter to them as well.


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