It’s hard to “add value”—our topic yesterday—if you don’t know what your values are. Before you sit down to write your next communication, spend some time thinking about it.
Take a piece of paper and make three columns, headed ME, OUR BRAND, OUR AUDIENCE. And then set a timer for 10 minutes and write down everything you can think of.
- What do you need to live a meaningful life?
- What would you do even if no one paid you to do it—and, more importantly, why?
- What kinds of things never get bumped off your to-do list (and why)?
- How do you want to relate to people?
- How do you want people to relate to your brand?
- What one adjective do you want in people’s minds when they hear about you? Your organization?
Evaluating your values
If you’re living in pretty close alignment to your values, you should find many of the same words popping up on all of the lists. Congratulations! But you might also find some surprises.
Say you’re a fairly laid-back person, but one thing that drives your audience is urgency. You might have to meet them halfway on that—unfurling from your serene mental lotus position to talk about a pressing issue. Or if that feels like too much of a deviation from your personal brand, deputize someone else to talk about the crisis in terms the audience can relate to.
Or you might be a super-serious person, but your audience enjoys a touch of humor. (For me, that’s always a given.) Until you learn to loosen up a little—do it right and people will respect you more for it, believe me—it doesn’t hurt to have someone with a more playful nature introduce you at an event. Your very own warm-up act.
My own values—in no particular order—include integrity, humor, respect, commitment, generosity, and excellence. I under-promise and over-deliver. I’ve structured my business around these values, and I know they resonate with my audience. In fact, one of the people who listened to my podcast interview with Joan Garry as much as told me that when she emailed me about the free gift I offered:
There—right there in the first sentence—one of my values: Generosity. My communications must be doing something right…and yours can too.