Lead with the Lead

Start with your key sentence. Your point. Your theory. Your ask.

Whether it’s a talk, a text or an email, lead with what’s most important.

Three things got me thinking about this.

First, how do we grab people’s attention from the start? I heard two days of incredible talks at TEDWomen 2016 this month. The speakers did not start with, “Hi, I’m glad to be here and I’m excited about what I’m going to share with you and I’d like to thank a few people before I get started.”

No, they grabbed us with their opening words. With a bold statement or a question or a story. Here are examples from some of my favorite TED talks.

“So I want to start by offering you a free no-tech life hack, and all it requires of you is this: that you change your posture for two minutes.” So begins Amy Cuddy‘s talk, Your body language shapes who you are.

“What makes a great leader today?” There’s no mistaking what Roselinde Torres will address in her talk, What it takes to be a great leader.

“It’s the fifth time I stand on this shore, the Cuban shore, looking out at that distant horizon, believing, again, that I’m going to make it all the way across that vast, dangerous wilderness of an ocean.” Diana Nyad grabs the audience right at the beginning of her story in Never, ever give up.

Second, how do we help busy people easily respond us? Quite simply, by putting the key information in the opening words of our emails and texts.

Beyond putting your main message in the subject line, use your first 10 to 12 words to make your point.

Many people have email preview screens that show these words. Make the most of that space by getting to the point. Because your recipient may not read anything else.

Third, how do we spot the key idea in any interaction? When a meeting ends, can you summarize the most important point in a single sentence? What’s the headline? The tweet? The snap?

Take a few minutes at the end of a conversation or meeting to identify the one key takeaway. Share it with your colleagues.

Given the complexity of many projects and the extensive collaboration that’s required to meet goals, this helps others see the forest for the trees.

This keeps a team focused on what’s most important. It guides their actions. And it increases the likelihood of success.

How do you keep your lead front and center?

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Caroline Leach

Hi, I'm Caroline Leach. I help people and organizations tell their stories. I'm a Marketing VP at AT&T, a former Communications VP at DIRECTV and an alum of the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. This blog, How to Build Your Career through Social Media, shows you how to build your personal brand, advance your career and embrace your future. It helps you promote your employer and your network too. Opinions expressed in this blog are my own. Your comments are welcomed and encouraged. I'd love to hear from you!

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