If You Confuse People, You Lose People: 4 Steps To Simplify Any Message

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Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. And today I have a question for you. Do you ever struggle to clearly communicate your message? Whether you wanna get media or a new job or a new client, being able to be clear, concise, and compelling is vital for success, and my guest today is gonna show us how. Emmy nominated speaker, strategist, and media trainer Rachel Hanfling helps clients catapult their brands to new heights. Whether it’s one on one or teaching at Harvard, Rachel’s approach is based on 20 years of producing television for big names like Oprah Winfrey and Anderson Cooper. She’s received thousands of pitches and can tell you how to make yours one of the few that makes the cut. Rachel’s mission is to show you how to deliver on demand when it counts. Rachel, I’m so excited to have you here. So thrilled to be here. I love MarieTV. I watch it, I learn from it. Glad to be here. So this is so valuable for all of us because I think all of us have a message that we wanna communicate whether we want to pitch something to an employer, we wanna get a new job, we wanna get on TV, we wanna get in a magazine, and you are such a pro. So if we wanna simplify our message, where’s the first place that we should start? Well, I just love this topic because I see the many ways that it can really help somebody. It can help you get media attention but it also helps you in your everyday life when youre pitching clients, customers, if you’re a doctor with patients. This topic is such a game changer if you do the work. Right. So where do you wanna start? Well, I’ve noticed over the years that most people do have difficulty simplifying their message. And the interesting thing about this is that most people dont even… well, many people dont realize that this is their problem. And I always say that if you confuse people, you lose people. You dont wanna confuse people. You have a matter of seconds to make an impression on a producer, on somebody that you’re trying to impress for a job or a gig or something like that. So everybody needs to know what’s most promotable about themself. And there are four ways that you can really hone in on that and up the ante. Number one, I always say you need to meet people where they are to take them where you want them to go. So what does that mean? That means you need to figure out what the person you’re communicating with cares about. Ok? So I could be talking about one person or I could be talking about millions of people in an audience. Same concept. Once you figure out what they care about, then that’s your point of entry. Then you go from there. Ok. So let me give you an example. When I was producing, sometimes folks would call up and they’d pitch me something. And it wouldn’t be appropriate for the show. And I would’ve sensed that they probably were not watching the show, so sometimes I would ask them, “Do you watch the show?” And they inevitably would say no or, “I haven’t watched it in a long time.” And both of those dont really work. Obviously you need to be watching the show. But also, you need to be watching it currently because shows change over a period of time. Shows can sometimes change very quickly. Right. So I would encourage them to go back and watch the show and if they still felt like there was an appropriate pitch to come back to me. And this is something that everybody can keep in mind any time they’re pitching. I would encourage anybody to watch a show for at least a week before they consider pitching it. Another thing that’s really important to keep in mind is that every pitch should be personalized. Sometimes people send out 100 pitches, 250 pitches, whatever the number is. Let me tell you, producers know when they’re getting those pitches and you want the pitches to be personalized for that show. And even if you can, for that producer. Yeah. I mean, there’s something really important that you said and if anybody watching you’re like, “Well, this doesnt relate to me because I dont necessarily wanna get on TV,” this relates to you if you wanna pitch yourself for a job, if you want a new client, if you’re trying to get on a particular blog, if you’re… anything. That personalization, I can’t tell you, Rachel, how many times something will come through our desk, so to speak, where I can tell it’s just a form letter and I’m like, “You have no i… do you even know…?” They spell, first of all, they call me Maria. And I’m like, “You really think that’s gonna get you anywhere?” But… so, anyway, just to put a pin in your point about the personalization piece, it is so important. You know, it’s funny that you mention that because I was talking to a friend of mine when I was getting ready to do this interview with you and she said, “You know, sometimes they spell my name wrong, sometimes they even send me a letter that was meant for a different show.” And, I mean, you wanna let the producer know that you really care and that you’ve put the kind of effort into it that anybody would want if they were being pitched. It’s really important. So curious from you, from all the years working on Oprah and Anderson Cooper and everything that you’ve done, have you ever seen someone try to pitch you and they’ve kinda got it all wrong, you know they didnt watch the show, but did anyone ever come back and get it right and totally wow you? Or do they lose credibility just right from the get go and they never really circle back? You know, any time something ends up on TV it’s a collaboration between the producing team and the person who’s gonna be on the show. So there’s always an evolution. Maybe something isn’t quite a fit but then the producer has a way to make it a fit. But generally what people wanna realize is your credibility is always on the line. So if you’re pitching something that’s just completely inappropriate, it says something about you. Not to say that there’s no way to overcome that, but it can say something about you. And it does. I wanted to ask you that because I think it’s really important for all of us to recognize we all have memories. Yes. And our reputation is important. So to take the time to really do this right from the get go, its vital. Yeah. And to think of it in a positive way, I remember the people that really got it and those are the people that I wanna go back to. You know? Over time because everybody wants to work with people who get it, whatever it is that they do. Right? That’s huge. I mean, thats… I can see that, again, even if you dont wanna pitch something on television or you’re not trying to get media, somebody who gets it who actually pays attention to the details, takes the time to add that personal connection to connect with someone where they’re

at, they do. You’ll remember them for a long time. Ok, this is fantastic. What is step number two to simplifying our message? Ok. So step number two, I wanna encourage people to let go of insider jargon and really speak in words that everybody can understand. It doesnt mean you dont know the insider jargon, I just wanna encourage people to use words that everybody can understand. So what happens is every industry has their own way of speaking. This is more commonly an issue for people who work in more technical fields, but every industry does have their own way of speaking. So let’s take doctors, for example. Ok, so there’s a big need for doctors on TV. Let’s say for example, somebody famous has a brain aneurysm, God forbid. Right? And a producer needs to find a doctor who can explain it. Ok, so that doctor is gonna get on the phone with that producer and do what we call in the industry a pre interview. That’s basically the gateway to the opportunity. You hit it out of the park, you have a good chance of ending up on TV. You don’t? Well, then the producer moves on to somebody else. So that doctor has 2 choices, that doctor can either speak about that aneurysm in a way that he would speak to, or she, he or she, of course, would speak to their colleagues at a conference who all have same knowledge base. Or they can speak in everyday words. Well, if you wanna be on TV, you need to be using everyday words that are relatable, if possible visual cues. You want to make even the most complicated topic as simple as possible. Really important. This is… it’s so important. I will tell you, I’ve even been in business meetings where someone’s talking to me and they start using words and I feel like a little kid in… I’m like, “I’ve gotta raise my hand. I dont know 5 things that you just said and I’m lost.” And even though I sound… I’m sometimes to myself sound a little silly, I wont let the conversation go on because I’m already lost back there. So, of course, for the media, this is so important and I think for many people, they just… they’re so used to their jargon but they also wanna sound smart and sound intelligent, and we’ve gotta dumb it down a little bit. We’ve gotta just break it down to a level that everybody can understand. And the thing is that breaking it down to a level that everybody can understand is smart. Because if you’re not connecting with people… Yeah, that was horrible. I just said dumb it down, but it really is making it smarter. Right. But I think what you said is great because a lot of people view it that way but, actually, the real… and people say that to me, “I’m worried I’m gonna be dumbing down whatever I have to say,” so I’m actually really glad you said that. The smartest thing you can do is make someone able to understand you. Yeah. And, ok, so let’s… I’ve already explained how this can really help you with media, but what I find to be so fascinating is if you continue with the doctor example, learning these skills serves you in your profession. So I was working with this doctor last year, coached him, he’s an incredible doctor, he also took my course. Within a month or so of working with me, he really wanted to be implementing what we were doing and he was really a go getter, which I love, and he started changing the way that he approached his patients and his patients’ families. He started practicing what he was learning, many of the things that we’re talking about today about how to be successful with media and the way you communicate. And what happened was within that month, he soared to the top of his group in patient satisfaction scores because his patients were so much happier dealing with him. And he actually felt that it made him a better doctor, and that’s across all professions. So that, I’m talking about doctors here, but this could be anybody who is watching today. It’s not just doctors. Does that make sense? Completely makes sense. And I know even dealing with people whether they’re designers or programmers, they’re people that work in film or television, when the jargon starts coming out it’s like I check out, I dont know if I can trust them, I dont know what the heck is going on, and I’m like can you please speak in layman’s terms? And as I’m thinking as you’re talking, always the folks that treat me like, “Hey, I know this isn’t your industry. Let me explain it to you so that you can really get it so you can understand what we’re doing,” those are the people that I wind up hiring. Absolutely. And those are the people you wanna watch on TV and those are the people you wanna work with. Absolutely. The other thing is most people are not giving you 100% of their attention whether they’re watching you on TV or whether they’re in a meeting with you, quite frankly. And so you wanna keep that in mind when you’re explaining, too, that you wanna keep things at a level where people can tune in and tune out a little bit. Yeah. So next, point number three, is getting rid of extra details. How do we do that? This is so common. Every one of us has so many details that we could share about any story, any message. And so often people say to me, “There’s so much I could be talking about. I dont know what I should include, I dont know where to start, I dont know what to leave out.” Well, ok, you wanna start with something that’s gonna reel people in and you know that because you’ve done your research and you also know what’s most promotable about you and you’re gonna marry those. And then you wanna include the details that strategically forward whatever it is you’re talking about. Now, when you get towards the point where you wanna finish up, you also wanna put a button on it, that’s what I like to say. So putting a button on it means you dont just end on a random detail. You sort of circle back to your messaging to help tie it all together for people. And when you do this, this is so important because when you start meandering to some other kind of detail that doesnt relate to the topic that you’re trying to convey, that’s when you lose people. Then people are confused, they dont really understand your messaging. You’ve gotta stay on point and think as you’re speaking, “Does this detail really pertain to what I’m trying to convey?” Yeah. So this is huge. I mean, I know for me, it’s been so interesting when someone asks me about what I do or, “How did you get started, Marie?” and I’m thinking exactly what you said in my head. “Well, how far do I go back?” Because this is a big story and there’s a lot of twists and turns, so I completely relate to what most people think. It’s like what do I keep in the story and what do I let go of to keep it tight and right? And one of the things that I’ve always done is think about how

do I want to position myself in this particular instance? So, for example, if I wanna highlight the fact that I’m a multipassionate entrepreneur, I will talk about my coaching practice and at the same time I started in dance and choreography and then I did this other thing. So I’ll highlight that. If I want to highlight the fact that I learned about internet marketing I’ll talk about how I took an ebook from a little tiny PDF, went through, self published it, and sold like 8 thousand copies and then took it to a regular publisher and sold it in 13 languages. I’m always kind of selecting pieces of my story based on A, like you said, what the media outlet is wanting me to talk about and, B, how I want to position myself. Is that something…? Absolutely. So you’re subconsciously doing, or maybe consciously, doing point 1. You’re thinking about who am I talking to and how are they gonna relate to whatever it is in my story and how can I most successfully connect with them? So when I’m communicating myself and when I’m coaching other people, whether that’s one on one or in a group, however it is, there’s constantly a sensor, a ding, ding, ding that’s going off in my head. This point is moving us forward. This point isn’t moving us forward. And you obviously wanna stay on the path of this is moving us forward. The second you start veering off, then people dont know what to do with what you’re saying. And people wanna be able to follow you. You wanna make it easy for people to follow you. You wanna serve up what they want authentically on a silver platter for them. Yeah. And I think your point about putting a button on the end, something I was always kind of trained with especially from doing a lot of fitness videos, was telling people, “Here’s where we’re going, this is the move we’re gonna do,” doing it, and say, “This is what you just worked out right now.” So it was always that little coming back, circling it up, making a bow, bing. And it makes such a difference, right? Yeah. Really, really does. Because people can follow you. Yeah. So number four, which is great, and this is probably perhaps one of the scariest things to do, but it’s probably also one of the most useful. Ok, so number four is where you tie it all together. Right? So if you do 1, 2, and 3 but you dont do number 4, it’s not gonna work as well. You’ve gotta do number 4. So, here’s what happens. I want to encourage people to test drive their messaging on people that are outside of their expertise and outside of their family and friends. Ok? So typically what happens is people understandably test drive their messaging on the people they feel most comfortable with. People they feel most comfortable with, family, friends, people who share the same expertise. Well, then those people tell you that you’re great and… because that’s what they want to do, they want to be supportive, and also they think like you so they’re more inclined to think you’re great and understand you. What you really wanna do no matter if you’re trying to get feedback on a product, on a book, on your pitch for media, whether you’re going into an interview, whatever it is, you wanna test on people that dont share your expertise and aren’t your family and friends and dont know everything about your life story. And when you do that, you realize where people dont understand you, you realize where people are interested, you realize where people are not so interested, and that’s the really valuable information. And what I think is so key about this and that I love about it, because I’m someone who really loves a challenge, is that messaging is not something you learn and then you’re done. Right? You continue to work on your messaging throughout your life and that’s what great communicators do because they know how important it is to communicate successfully and they always wanna be better. Yeah, and I think also for most of us, our messaging evolves as we evolve, as our businesses evolve, as who we become in the world evolves. The things that we want to highlight, the things that we want to focus on and also how we want to be perceived changes over time. So this is an evolutionary kind of process. So I’ve got to ask you, because I can hear my viewers going, “Ok, well if I’m not gonna test drive with my family and friends, where am I gonna find people to test drive on?” What would your answer be? Ok, well once I was preparing for a speech, this was last spring, and I… this is just an example off the top of my head since you asked. And I met this girl in the gym, really nice girl, she told me she’d worked in finance and she was between jobs and I said, “You know, I’m doing a speech soon. You dont really know me, but do you mind coming over to my house and listening to my speech?” I liked her, she wasn’t… I got a good vibe off of her. Of course. Of course. But she was completely… she didnt know me from Adam, she seemed like a very nice girl, and she was very much outside of my expertise, and she sat and she listened to me speak for about an hour and she actually had great feedback. Ok, so you dont have to ambush somebody in the gym, although it was really nice, but my point is you can meet people anywhere. It’s also why it’s a great idea to have a coach because when somebody is coaching you, that’s their job to be your… your guide and help give you that barometer. But you dont have to invest in that. There are people all around us who maybe maybe we dont know them that well. You can find… you can find them and it can really be successful. Yeah. I think also too just obviously this is MarieTV and you guys have so much fun in the comments. So you could totally use the comments to test your messaging out. Rachel, this was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for coming on. You’re so welcome. I loved it. And I’m really excited for everybody who’s watching because I know the power of what we’re talking about today and I can’t wait to see what they do with it. So so exciting. Now Rachel and I would love to hear from you. Which of the four steps is gonna help you the most to simplify your message and communicate more effectively? And now if you’re up for it, you know our community is awesome. So you can workshop your message right here and get feedback from all of our lovely people. Did you like this video? If so, subscribe and share it with your friends. And if you want even more great resources to create a business and life that you love plus some personal insights from me that I only talk abou tin email, get yourself over to MarieForleo.com and sign up for email updates. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you next time on MarieTV.

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Rachel Hanfling, Media Training, How To Get On TV, How To Communicate, Marie Forleo, Women Entrepreneurs, Business Ideas for Women, How to Start a Business, …
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