Start with the Goal and Skip the Rest
Here’s the best piece of writing advice that Tamsen’s ever received: after you finish your first draft, go back and delete the first paragraph. Why does this work? Because if we haven’t thought something through before we speak it or write it, we try to make ourselves comfortable first. The thing is, an audience or listener is asking a different question: “Do I care?” If you ramble, the answer will be no.
The Red Thread can help you because it’s about aligning what you say with how people make the decision to act. So how do you start? Think to yourself, “What is the Goal that my audience walks in with that I can help them achieve?” That’s how you get them to keep listening.
– Want to know the best piece of writing advice I ever got? Here it is. After you’ve finished the first draft, go back and delete the first paragraph. I’m Tamsen Webster of www.tamsenwebster.com, and we’re going to be talking about why that’s such a good piece of advice this week on Find the Red Thread.
Why is this such a good piece of advice? Because we’re human. Because if we haven’t thought something through before we say it or we write it, we tend to try to make ourselves comfortable with the situation which means we’re going to kind of explore different ways to get there. We’re going to think about what’s on top of our minds.
But remember, one of the first and most central questions that a reader, an audience, a customer is listening for, the question they’re trying to answer for themselves is, “Do I care or should I listen?” And if you spend the first few sentences, whether spoken or written, making yourself feel comfortable, they’re likely going to end up with this answer… “No.” So it makes sense that we tend to ramble a bit when we first start to write or when we first start to speak if we haven’t thought through it ahead of time.
But this is where the Red Thread can be super helpful for you. Because, remember, the Red Thread is about aligning what you say, either written or spoken, with how people make the decision to act, with how people make the decision to change. Which means you don’t have to think about where do I start and how do I get into this. You don’t have to figure it out in the moment because there’s always a framework you can fall back on. And that’s to think to yourself, “What’s the goal that my audience, my reader, my customer walks in with that I can help them with?” Not why am I the best person, not how did I get here today, not let me give you some background. It’s about figuring out what is the most powerful way that you can get them thinking about why you’re talking to them in the first place.
So if you do find that you’ve just sat down and written before thinking any of that out, try that trick. Go back and look at that first paragraph and see if you could get rid of it. I’m going to bet you can. I’m going to bet that you really got into your point to that thing that will capture the audience, the reader’s, the customer’s attention in the second paragraph. And if you’re speaking, resist that urge to do what we call “throat clearing.” Resist that urge to talk about anything other than why the audience should care about the topic that you’re about to speak on.
So next time you’re trying to think those things through, take a look at some of the other videos here on Find the Red Thread. There’s lots of information on all sorts of these things. And if you want more information beyond that, then reach out to me at www.tamsenwebster.com/contact and let’s talk about how I might be able to help you. I’m Tamsen Webster of www.tamsenwebster.com. Thanks so much for watching, or listening.