How to Win Over Your Audience

If you want to increase the likelihood of a startup of being successful, I think that you only need to focus on three things when you’re sitting across from someone who’s a stakeholder, someone in your audience, someone who has a market.

I’m Chuck Goldstone. I live in the world of story. I’m a communication guy, and I have recognized that communication is probably among the most important skills that a startup company can have. You want to do three things: you want to get someone to listen, you want them to like you, and you want them to do what you want.

Get People to Listen

First of all, you’ve got to get people to listen. If you have a startup company, you have an emerging company, you are probably in the most competitive space I know of. Everybody is competing for the same thing. They’re competing for attention. They’re competing for money. They’re competing for a market. I don’t care what it is that you do, if you’re going to be successful, you’re going to have to interact with other people and move them to some kind of working relationship or action. In order to do that, you need to make sure that you are a communication company first. Someone will listen and pay attention if they see that their interests or self-interest is being addressed by what it is that you do. So the first thing you need to do is get attention. So that means you have to be clear. That means you have to be as innovative in your communication as you perhaps are in your product or technology.

Get People to Like You

The second thing you need to do is you’ve got to get them to like you, and I don’t mean to invite you for Thanksgiving dinner. But they have to feel comfortable. Decisions are not made on the cognitive level; it’s not all this information we cram into somebody’s head. It is “Do I feel comfortable?” Funders tell me all the time that they’re not necessarily buying a technology. As a matter of fact, they’ll buy a technology that has a brackish lagoon of sludge if they like the person who stands behind it because they know they can always change the technology of the product. So be very clear about the value of communication.

Get People to Do What You Want

The third thing is you want them to do what you want. So many people assume that their audience is going to connect the dots—they’ll do the heavy lifting, I just simply tell them how great my product or technology is and they’re just going to come running. It’s your burden to make sure that, number one, you understand what it is that you want from them. And number two, to be able to communicate clearly what it is that you want from them and they can expect from you.

Focus Your Communication

So in the end, focus on three things. Focus your communication on number one, getting them to listen. Number two, getting them to like you, to see that you’re credible, to see that you have something that would make their involvement with you worthwhile for them. And number three, don’t simply assume that if you say it, it will be heard and they will figure out what you want. You need to focus on what action you want from your audience and make sure that your expectation and their expectation is clear and everyone understands what’s in it for them and what the next step ought to be.