Everybody has a platform.
It’s the new reality in media, and in life. In an average second, 6,000 tweets are posted. Over 101,000 YouTube videos are watched. Over 40,000 Google searches are queried. The days of newspapers and television newscasters monopolizing information are over.
This makes getting noticed a significant challenge.
Whether you’re a blogger, broadcaster, social media marketer or just a random person that wants your idea heard, you’ve got to stand out from the crowd. As a radio guy, I’ve been facing this challenge for years. We’re not just competing against other stations. We’re battling against your Facebook feed for your attention. We used to be able to garner listeners by simply reporting the latest information. Now by the time we share it, you’ve probably already heard it. And you likely know more about it than we do.
So what’s the key to ensuring your unique voice is heard above all the rest? Here’s a few secrets:
- Find your unique angle. Unless you’re a professional journalist, you’ll never be able to capture anyone’s attention with information. Facts are readily accessible through a quick Google search. They even magically appear in your Facebook feed without any effort. Instead, focus on one simple question: What can I say about this topic that nobody else is saying? The answer is what I call your ‘unique angle’. Sometimes it’s counter intuitive. Other times it’s unexpected. Or it could be born out of your specialized training and experience. Either way, it’s got to be something that only you can offer. Otherwise, why would anyone want to listen to something they can find anywhere else?
- Embrace your personality. Many high school and college writing classes train you to squelch your voice. Don’t get me wrong, this is an important and necessary tactic in academic writing. But sadly, many lose their personality in the process. The moment his fingers touch a keyboard, a funny guy’s sarcastic wit disappears. If you want to be heard, you’ve got to rediscover your voice. If you’re an aspiring blogger or just engaging in social media, you’ve got to find yourself in your writing. If you’re a broadcaster, drop the formalities, get comfortable and be the unique person God designed you to be. Personality paired with unique angles are a powerful combination.
- Economy of words. It’s yet another unintended consequence of college writing. You’ve been asked to arbitrarily compose a ten page paper, but you’ve only got about five pages of things to say. So you drag out the content as much as possible with stuff that doesn’t matter. I see this play out when I teach writing for radio. Great students can pound out a lengthy research paper, but they can’t write a compelling paragraph. Words matter. Make them all count. And don’t use any more than are absolutely necessary. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information, the average attention span is only 8.25 seconds. See how important words are? Get to the point quickly. If you’re writing, use bullet points and bold words so readers can scan before they commit. Rather than complain about shrinking attention spans, embrace the facts and use them to your advantage.
- Be clear. Creativity has its disadvantages. Sometimes abstract concepts and artistic explanations are downright confusing. The last thing anyone should ever ask when they’re reading your post or listening to you speak is, “What are you trying to say?” Don’t ever sacrifice clarity for artistry. If you can’t do both simultaneously, dump the creative and be clear. Crystal clear.
- Tell great stories. I chuckle when people predict the death of radio. The way we listen to it may be changing, but people still consume a lot of audio. Don’t believe me? The NPR podcast phenomenon “Serial” has more than 80 million downloads. This illustrates a simple truth that applies to all types of media – people love great stories. And they always will. Radio consultant Tracy Johnson says, “The ability to tell stories well is the difference between captivating an audience and putting them to sleep.” Take this reality and run with it. Whether you’re writing or speaking, share clear, compelling and concise stories through the unique lens of your personality and perspective.
Digital media changed everything. If someone doesn’t like your sermon, they can get a better one online. Boring blog posts are ignored. Average social media content is lost in a constant barrage of online content. Applying these simple strategies will enable you to focus your message, and rise above the rest.