How to Avoid Some Common Pitfalls
If you’ve been working on finding your own Red Thread, there are some common pitfalls that you need to watch out for. In this episode, Tamsen goes through each step of the Red Thread— Goal, Problem, Idea, Change, and Action— and points out how to approach each one.
- Goal: You need to make sure that you’re stating your audience’s goal, not your own. A question to ask yourself is, “If I were to say this Goal to my ideal audience member, would they say yes to it?”
- Problem: If you want people to do something, it’s tempting to say that the Problem is that they’re not doing it. The truth is that this a good way to trigger their psychological resistance and make them skeptical of what you’re saying. Instead, the best problem statements are those that describe the world in a new or slightly different way, by creating tension between the world as they think it is and the world as you see it.
- Idea: People are tempted to introduce the Change as the Idea, but you need to focus on how to get the audience to understand why the Problem is such a problem. Rather, focus on introducing an additional piece of information, a value, a discovery, a core belief, something that creates the understanding and agreement necessary for them to say yes to the Change.
- Change: Many people don’t get specific enough with their Change. You want to say that it’s several things, but you actually need to roll those up into one big shift. That shift should be a prescriptive change in approach that builds on the Problem and the Idea.
- Action: The pitfall here is having too many Actions. When someone needs to understand something quickly they can’t hold onto more than three to five pieces of information at a time. Instead, find ways to chunk your action steps, for example by describing them as steps in a process, a set of criteria, or as categories of actions.
Want more information on how to find your (or your organization’s) Red Thread? Find that and more at TamsenWebster.com.
– Have you started working on finding your own Red Thread? Whether that’s for a message, or a talk, or maybe even yourself? Then there are some pitfalls that I want to help you avoid. I’m Tamsen Webster of http://www.tamsenwebster.com, and this is Find the Red Thread.
Here are five things to watch out for as you work on your own Red Thread. Number one, with the Goal Statement. Make sure it’s their goal, not yours. And the easiest way to test for that is to think to yourself, “If I were to say that goal to the person that I most want to hear this message, would they readily say yes to it before hearing anything else I have to say?” If so then you’ve got it, if not, keep working.
Number two, with the Problem Statement. The biggest challenge I see here is people want the Problem just to be the reverse of the Change. “I want people to do X, so the Problem is that they’re not doing X.” That can’t be the way it works— it will never work with an audience, not really. They’ll be skeptical and you won’t get the Change that you’re looking for.
So the best Problem Statements are those that describe the world in a new or slightly different way— that cast the Problem in a new light. So, look as much as you can for ways to create that tension between the world as they think it is and the world as you see it. Tension is where our Problem really lies.
Number three, with the Idea Statement. The challenge I see most often here is when people start to introduce the Change as the Idea. But the Idea, just like the Problem Statement, is also descriptive. It’s an opportunity for you to introduce an additional piece of information: a discovery, a realization, a value, a core belief, something that gets people to understand why the Problem is such a problem, but also that creates the understanding and agreement that’s necessary for them to say yes to the Change.
The most common challenge I see with the Change statement (this is the fourth one), is that it is not specific enough. That people want to say, “Well, it’s these three things.” And that’s normal because those three things, whatever they might be, might be your Action, but they should all roll up into a big shift. And that shift should be the product of your Problem plus the Idea. So you’ve got a descriptive Problem Statement, a descriptive Idea Statement; your Change Statement should be a prescriptive change in approach that builds on the Problem and the Idea.
Finally, with the Actions, the thing I see most commonly here is that people just have too many of them. Now it can be that in a book, or in a much longer paper, or something where people are going spend time, that you could have 12 or 15 steps. But when someone needs to understand something quickly they really can’t hold more than three to five pieces of information at a time.
So, to the extent that you can, chunk that information in your Action Steps. Chunk it based on a process: “We need to do step A, step B, step C.” Or you can chunk it based on criteria: “In order to have this change happen, we need to make sure that these three things are in place.” Or you can chunk it based on categories: “We need to make this change in these three areas, locally, globally, personally.”
Hopefully, that will help as you are working on your own Red Thread. If you have any questions, please reach out to me on my website, http://www.tamsenwebster.com