Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

One Paradigm-shifting Idea That Will Change the Way You Communicate

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It’s something professional speakers do. It’s something the best storytellers and broadcasters do. It’s something your favorite bloggers and writers do, too.

But for some reason, I was neglecting it. I thought I was better than it, that I was somehow above the system. I was believing a lie.

One Photo

Photo credit: Andre Chinn (Creative Commons)

The phrase that changed my mind

Earlier this week on a webinar, I heard Derek Halpern say this:

Stop writing lists. Write one tip that helps you get one result. (Click here to tweet that.)

Of course, this applies to more than tips and tricks. It applies to ideas and stories, too. We communicators need to stop cluttering our messages with too many inane details.

Sure, a blog post with “101 ideas about X” is catchy, but is it memorable? You may get people saying, “I’ll bookmark that!” but are they going back to read it? Or are they forgetting about it? Probably the latter.

How to be remembered

I’m sure I’ll still do the occasional list post (because they’re kinda fun), but I’m much more interested in providing one idea that sticks than seven forgettable ones.

Does this mean that you only have one point? Not at all. It means you have one objective, one goal — something you want to accomplish.

Here are some possibilities:

  • To encourage
  • To convince
  • To notify
  • To inspire hope
  • To warn
  • To explain
  • To empower
  • To demonstrate

And so on. Once you’ve got your “one thing” (whether it be an idea, a story, a detail, or a tip), take that and back it up with a few rationale.

Why this makes sense

Be honest. Your memory isn’t that good. Neither is mine. Think about it:

  • Most people are busy. They don’t have time to remember something more complicated than one sticky idea.
  • Most people are distracted. Your message is competing with thousands of others. You can stand out by being remarkable.
  • Most people are forgetful. This is a byproduct of busyness and distraction. Strangers simply don’t have time to remember what you said, so keep it simple to stay at at the forefront of their minds.

I’m always forgetting appointments and meetings (heck, I lose my keys on a regular basis). I need to write things down to remember them. And it helps if they’re not too complicated.

Most people are like this. They need help understanding why what you’re saying is worth remembering. So that’s why you limit your talk or essay or blog post to one key idea worth remembering.

Finding your “one thing”

If you had one thing to say to the world, what would it be?

Mine would be something like this:

You are an artist; now go create.

You can tweet that, if you like, but I’d really like you to come up with your own.

It’s time for you to decide what one thing you want to say, and then say it. So let’s do that:

If this were your last day on earth, and you only had one song to sing, one tweet to share, one sentence to shout, what would it be?

Share your answer in the comments.

By the way, Derek posted the replay to that webinar I mentioned if you want to hear him explain this more from a blogging perspective. Check it out here (this link expires at 5pm EDT today).

*Photo credit: Andre Chinn (Creative Commons)

About Jeff Goins

I help people tell better stories and make a difference in the world. My family and I live outside of Nashville, TN. Follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or Google Plus. Check out my new book, The In-Between. To get exclusive updates and free stuff, join my newsletter.

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  • http://oneconfusedlady.blogspot.com/ Anokina Shahbaz

    One sentence to shout? I’ve thought of this before; it’s a line from a Celine Dion song: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.” :)

  • Hannelie

    Don’t be afraid to LIVE.

  • Kelley Johnson Nikondeha

    Jubilee still happens!

  • http://www.danapittman.com/ Dana Pittman

    You are not the exception but the rule. 

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      nice

  • http://www.innerwits.com/ Dawn Epstein

    Safety is the enemy of satisfaction. Risk your own comfort to guide others to their own beauty, and you will make a satisfying difference with your life.

  • Pilar Arsenec

    Be like Jeff Goins when I grow up. (Mind you, I am 45 lol)

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      :)

  • http://sprezzaturarrd.blogspot.com/ Anon A Mus

    Wait!  I’m not done yet!

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      Nice. :)

      • Linda Cardella

        I’m sorry. I meant for my comment to appear after Jeff’s.

    • Linda Cardella

      My father died three weeks ago. That is exactly what he said a few days before he died. He said, “I still want to contribute.” His will and desire were strong, but his body was not. As I said in a separate comment… Do it now. Don’t wait.

      • Katiakantzia

        Linda I am sorry you lost your father!
        My father died 44 years ago and it still hurts. But I have realized all the plans and dreams we made together  for me and that feels great. I know he is happy  for it when he looks down and sees me and my accomplishements.

        You can do it too… for your father as well as for yourself. What you said: Do it now!

        My best to you! God bless you, and may your father’s memory be eternal!

  • Amy Tuttle

    look for truth, beauty and goodness. everyday.

  • Meg R.

    I have never thot of other people’s lists as more than just choices for me to pick from.  Picking one to work thru at the time does make it more memorable for me, reinventing it for my own needs makes it better.  Usually these lists are rewritten several times and I might choose a different one each time.  I really like focusing on one tip and have a whole blog on it. 

    Jeff, write down that you forget on a regular basis, when you hit 50 you will sudden wonder if this is new behavior and do you have Alzheimer’s disease.  It just goes that way. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/darlene.campbell.77 Darlene Campbell

    Work intuitively with great emotion and passion. Go so deep into it that you feel like you’re chasing after yourself while you paint and write.

  • http://www.algosobreomundo.com/ Arthur Bichmacher

    We are what we think. We think whar we want.

  • http://www.rebekahruthbooks.com/ Rebekah Ruth

    God created you to say something. Find out what it is, say it, and leave the results to Him.

    • http://godtreasure.blogspot.com/ Dorci

      Love that. 

  • http://ruthannereid.com/ Ruthanne Reid

    Don’t ever give up!

  • Linda Cardella

    Don’t wait. Do it now.

  • Pam W

    Capture the moments.  Write something about as many as you can, preserve them. You can’t relive it, so freeze them in time. (photographs) snapshotofthewhole.wordpress.com

  • Mindbogglingrace

    Take more walks, throw more rocks and smell more flowers.

  • http://twitter.com/poeticjason Jason Cormier

    Good advice.  I would also say that you could expand that to your blog overall.  Focus on one theme.

  • http://sparkvoice.wordpress.com/ DS

    Wake up loving life – Follow your heart.  Follow your passion.

  • http://sharppaynes.com/ Tresta

    God is big.  Live like it.

  • http://bretthenley.com/ Brett Henley

    “We are all loved, and capable of being loving … so slow down.”

    That = me. Now granted, that is not necessarily what I say when it comes to my art, but if it’s the end of things – then it’s love, all the way.

    BTW – glad someone else feels the same way I do about the damn list posts. I get it – we’ve all done it, and it certainly has its spot at the table.

    It’s just the unhealthy obsession with its ability to spread that I don’t get. It might nab some comments, it might nab a few more mentions …

    But will it change anything?

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      amen

  • Merrylynn100

    I have five great kids ages 18 – 23. My last words would be to them and they would be:

    love God with abandon.

  • http://www.flailingthroughlifeandlove.blogspot.com/ Hillary

    The objective in life isn’t necessarily to win, but to live life beautifully. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/seledwith Sharon Ledwith

    Go. Do. Be.

  • ChristieB101

    Can somebody cancel the milk please? I’ve only got one message before life on earth ends, and I can’t waste it contacting the milkman. It’s not that I don’t appreciate him dragging himself out of bed in the early hours, in all weathers to deliver dairy products to my door. It’s just that I believe one’s final communication with the world should be more inspirational than ‘no milk today, thanks.’

    I can’t decide whether it matters that it’s raining while I offer my final words to the planet. A shower doesn’t have to be a negative thing, we all need water to live. But if you have it, and can no longer survive anyway, then it’s superfluous. The rain has stopped now while I’ve been thinking, but the air is still grey. So, what is it that I really want to say to anyone who will listen, in lands near and far, across mighty oceans and all encompassing skies? It is simply, “I like this place, and I’m sorry to be leaving so early. If you’re reading this, you’re still alive. But don’t forget to cancel the milk, one day it will be your turn.”

  • http://NathanRouse.org/ Nathan Rouse

    God wants to use you for His glory.

  • Princessjulie

    My last day on earth I would spend singing Amazing Grace.

    • http://goinswriter.com/ Jeff Goins

      beautiful

  • The Kenworth

    ‘Use your powers for good.’ 

  • Ann

    We all have the capacity for enthusiasm: stitch some in your life.

  • Celeste Vaughan

    It’s all about small changes. Lists can be overwhelming. Join me on Make-a-change Mondays on my blog for just that…one tip at a time to a happier, healthier life: http://celestialprescriptions.blogspot.com/search/label/Make-a-change%20Mondays

  • http://www.wwjw.com/ Best Shopping Directory

    God created you to say something. Find out what it is, say it, and leave the results to Him.

  • http://www.chancescoggins.com/ chance

    LOVE this post! I couldn’t agree one small bit more. And by the way, it lines up with the best advice I’ve been given by some of the greatest Christian authors and speakers out there today. They (and now you) have positioned this at the front of my mind.

    I rarely approach a post or a blank page with more than one point to make. And when I do, I almost end up hacking it all up with a machete in the end.

    Great reminder – thanks, Jeff! Great post!

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