There is one question you’re not asking enough when it comes to your communications

Jun 14, 2021

And it’s not “what is your objective.”

Journalism schools like to give first-year students an intriguing piece of advice.

“If you have 30 minutes to write an article, you’re going to spend 25 minutes coming up with your lede.”

Your lede — often misspelled as ‘lead’ — is the first line of your article. It’s meant to hook you so that you’ll be curious enough to continue with the story. Often, the lede teases or describes what the story is actually about, serving as a summary of what’s to come. 

You should get great at creating ledes in your communications…but that’s a subject for another blog.

Lede-Ing to the most important question.
The reason I mention all this is that a good lede is the prime example of the most important question you have when creating any type of content, from pitches and presentations to how to videos and blog posts.

When we create content, we often start with a question like “What’s the objective?” or “What do we want our audience to notice/feel/do?” These are great questions, but they’re not the first one to ask.

Instead, you want to start with this gem — “What does it take to win?”

What does it take to win over your audience? What does it take to win over distraction? What does it take to win over a competitor?

Your content isn’t simply about delivering a bunch of information. Shoving a wall of words at someone is just going to make them disengage.

Instead, you’re trying to slow your reader or listener down to engage with your content and to change something in their behaviour. Your goal is to understand what you have to do to accomplish that mission.

Here’s exactly how great communicators do that:

Decide to create a piece of content.

  1. Ask what does it take to win with this piece of content?

  2. Determine why you’re creating the content (objective).

  3. Profile your audience to determine what is meaningful and relevant.

  4. Bringing together all the information you gathered in Steps 3 and 4, and asking the question again “What does it take to win?”

  5. Building a structure or outline based on your answer.

In a way, Ledes are the answer to the question. They provide enough information and intrigue to make an audience engage with what comes next.

“What does it take to win.” Your new power skill in communications.