Thursday, August 6, 2015

Get Their Attention with the Four Why's

Why?So you have an important message to share. And you've crafted a killer story to share it. They're bound to love it, right? Wrong! Chances are they didn't even hear it.

They're not listening to you.

It's not that they don't care, it's just that they get bombarded by so many other messages that yours just doesn't appear on their radar.

Unless ...

Unless you tell them why they need to listen.

In fact, everybody is asking four "Why?" questions in their mind to decide whether to listen to you. If you don't answer those four questions right up front, they won't even bother listening.

Here are the four questions: Why Me? Why This? Why You? Why Now?

  1. Why Me? Is this a good fit for me?
  2. Why This? What are the benefits for me to keep listening?
  3. Why You? What is your authority to deliver this message?
  4. Why Now? Is there any urgency for me to do something?

For example ...

For example, suppose a major new competitor has entered the market, and you're the CEO who has to explain this to all employees. In particular, it will affect one particular team, whose project will change dramatically. It's going to mean some big changes for them, which will initially seem painful, but will actually make the project easier if everybody embraces the change. This is such a big change that the project manager has invited you, the CEO, to share the news.

You've decided to tell a story about how your parents moved house when you were young, and you were the new kid in a new school. It was a shock at first, but you quickly realised you could use this to your advantage.

Great story! But when you gather the team for a meeting, don't launch it into the story right away.

Instead, you start by answering the four Why questions - like this:

"I'm here to talk about what Accurona's product means for us as a company, (Why Me:) and particularly for you in the Prolinki development team.

(Why This:) When you walk out of here, I want you to know how we're going to respond as a company, what it means for your project team, and who to talk to if you want to know more. (Why You:) As the CEO, I can share the big picture, and we want you to be fully informed. (Why Now:) Accurona will have government approval for their product in June, so we have 90 days to prepare.

You've probably heard some rumours, and you might be worried about what this means for us. It reminds me of when I was 9, and we moved house because my Dad got transferred ..."

It takes less than a minute to cover the four Why's. But it's a very important minute, so don't ignore it! If you do ignore it, you run the risk of losing them before you even start.

Keep in mind that the four Why questions are all about them – your audience. You might even tell the same story to a different audience, but just start by answering the four Why questions differently.

For example, if you were speaking to investors and shareholders rather than the product development team, and you're calling for an additional investment of funds, you might start like this:

"I'm here to talk about the impact of Accurona's product on our company, (Why Me:) and particularly what it means for our earnings this quarter.

(Why This:) I want you to know how it will affect growth, what it means for our likely dividends, and where we expect to be come June 30. (Why You:) As CEO, I've led our discussion throughout the company, at both a strategic and operational level. (Why Now:) The next 90 days will be crucial, and I want you to know why.

You've probably seen the media announcements from Accurona, and you might be worried about what this means for us. It reminds me of when I was 9, and we moved house because my Dad got transferred ..."

Whenever you're stuck for an opening to deliver any message, start with the four Why's.