BBJ Entry 017: Let Me Be Clear


Photo by Janeke88

[FYI: The title “BBJ” refers to Bill’s Business Journey]

One of my favorite internet business experts, Ray Edwards, tells this story:

In his Master Mind group (a small team of like-minded business owners who meet regularly to help each other grow their businesses), Ray tried something new: instead of asking for advice on a specific issue, he told his group, “Talk about me and my business as if I wasn’t here. Discuss things I’m doing well, ways in which I could improve, and so on. I’ll just listen.”

What he got was a tremendous insight – not by what was suggested, but by what was asked. One of the members, who’d been a part of the group for years, shocked him by posing this question:

“What exactly does Ray do?”

In our efforts to differentiate ourselves from the competition, we may try to promote our services on a grand scale: “As a presentation consultant, I empower my clients to create experiential presentations that transform their audiences.” Or we may create pithy catch phrases to encompass everything we strive for: “Making your message memorable.” But these descriptions alone might actually backfire on our potential clients – or even, as Ray learned, on our own networking colleagues.

At some point, we need to just keep it simple and clear. The results may surprise us.

I recently met with a new networking contact to discuss how we might assist each other’s business growth. While we were still chatting, he suddenly said, “Wait a minute: do you do PowerPoint work?”

I answered yes, and he told me this: “When you said ‘presentations’ at the group meeting, I thought you only offered coaching for high-level public speaking, like Toastmasters. But if you do PowerPoint, I’ve got clients who could use you right now.”

He wasn’t kidding. A week later, he set me up to begin some PowerPoint work for one of his clients, the first of several ongoing projects.

It wasn’t because I promoted my services on a grand scale. It was because he now knows exactly what I do.

 This blog chronicles my adventures with my public speaking and presentation coaching business, Rhetorio Presentation. To learn more about it, visit the main site at For presentation-specific tips, scroll down the right-hand sidebar for the 3 presentation categories: #1: Think, #2: Show, and #3: Tell.

6 comments on “BBJ Entry 017: Let Me Be Clear

  1. Tiffany says:

    This is an interesting thought to pair with your entry #14 where you talk about how making “oversimplified” statements about what you do can backfire by failing to set you apart. In this entry, you make a good point that statements or phrases that are too abstract may leave the client or customer wondering what you actually do?
    I think this is the constant battle for all marketers. How do you clearly communicate what you do, AND how you’re different?
    I am excited to see how you will continue to do this in your business journey!

    • rhetorio presentation says:

      Brilliant observation, Tiffany! That is indeed the reality and the challenge. My observation right now is that on a large scale, the key is determining and then sending the right message to the right audience. On a small scale, it’s about listening carefully, then answering the questions they’re actually asking. And I suppose that’s what a successful marketer does. Thanks for the comment!

      • Tiffany says:

        So true! Finding out what the client/customer really needs is the foundation of good marketing.
        It is also interesting to think about things both in terms of the big picture, and the minute details (big scale, small scale) to get a more complete perspective. Hadn’t quite thought of it that way before, but it totally makes sense. Good point!

  2. Neena Karnad says:

    Insightful. Really enjoyed it.

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