College made my eyebrows hurt. More on that in a moment.
If you view thought leadership as an important ingredient in your consulting firm’s growth, keep this in mind: your ideas don’t matter if they’re tedious.
I snoozed many college hours away, slumped back in an easy chair with some heavy, open textbook balanced on my face–textbooks knocked me into somnolence through the sheer power of extreme boringness. I absorbed none of those texts’ concepts while sleeping, but they did, nonetheless, leave an impression. Usually on my chin and supraorbital ridge. Hence, the hurting eyebrows.
Your ideas are only useful if they’re implemented. They’re only implemented if clients find them compelling, and only interesting ideas are compelling. Hence:
Your ideas are only useful if they’re interesting.
Many bright, clever consultants intent on thought leadership, publish books, whitepapers, articles, and so forth that are almost diabolical in their dullness. Prospective clients aren’t impressed, because prospective clients stopped reading after one paragraph.
You snooze you lose? No, they snooze, you lose.
Don’t be Soporific Sally. You’ve gotta keep prospects engaged. Add some sizzle to your skizzles.
How to Make Your Ideas Interesting
(So Prospects Will Pay Attention)
Start Right-Side Up
It’s about them, not you. Tie your idea directly to a problem (or aspiration) your prospects have, then start with their problem, not your idea.
Couch your concepts in concrete terms. Replace tedious language like, “One’s largest capital investment is in constant peril” with hard-hitting reality: “Your house could burn down!”
Think of your idea as a mannequin. Your metaphors, stories, colorful language, and humor drape clothes on the display, and catch your prospects’ notice. Without the flashy outfit, all you’ve got is a dummy.
Uncover Your Bases
If you’re detail oriented, you feel compelled to explain every exception, variation, gyration and incarnation of your thesis. Like, “I before E except after C and words like neighbor and weigh and sleigh and kaleidoscope and caffeine and…” Your main point is “I before E,” so leave it at that. Mostly-right plus easy-to-remember wins clients.
Watching the play is inherently less exciting than participating in the play. Find ways to engage your prospects in your ideas. You can employ corny tricks like fill in the , opt for more sophisticated devices like diagnostics, checklists, and surveys, or jump into the brave new world of interactive content. In fact, I think I’ll practice some engagement right now:
What else do you do to make your ideas interesting to prospective consulting clients? Please add your good ideas in the comments section.
Text and images are © 2019 David A. Fields, all rights reserved.