26 September 2023

Conversational thought leadership: Let’s talk about you (and not me)

Start the conversation

Bill Sherman* says focusing on others is the best way to spread a leadership message.

Many thought leaders don’t know how to talk about their content.

It becomes evident in formal sales conversations as well as less-formal social settings.

We’ve all been at social events where we run into that person – someone so passionate about themselves that they dominate the conversation.

You try to subtly shift the topic and add your insights, but they’re so deep in their world that they can only hear their voice.

After a few minutes, you’re looking for a way to exit the conversation gracefully.

After ten minutes, you’ll invent family emergencies—a sick aunt or a rabid pet hamster—so that you can get away.

Thought leaders seem particularly at risk of becoming that person.

And if you think about it for a moment, it’s almost predictable.

People become thought leaders and experts with a unique point of view because they’re passionate about a topic.

They like to think about it deeply.

And they’re eager to talk about their thought leadership insights.

It’s okay to show a little enthusiasm! A little bit makes someone interesting, but too much enthusiasm becomes a bore.

When many thought leaders build their sales and marketing narratives, they make a critical mistake.

They begin the narrative by talking about “me, my content, and I.” That’s a great way to encourage people to hit the back button or look for a quick exit from the conversation.

If you want to become more effective in the business of thought leadership, you need to become a better conversationalist.

You need to create room for others to join the conversation.

Even better, you need to focus your attention on the other people in the room.

Listen, and build a bridge between their pain points and your content.

Don’t assume that connections which are obvious to you will be obvious (or even remotely interesting) to your buyer.

Take a moment to ask yourself the following questions about how you engage others:

  • How do your websites and marketing collateral create room for your buyer in the conversation?
  • Do your presentation decks and proposals focus on your expertise or your buyer’s needs?
  • What’s your ratio of talking-to-listening in sales presentations?

Just because you’re passionate doesn’t mean that buyers will be interested in your topic.

You’ve spent years thinking deeply about your content and mastering its nuances.

But, if you want your ideas to spread and make an impact on the world, you need to turn the spotlight away from you — and even away from your topic.

You need to focus your attention on others.

As the COO of Thought Leadership Leverage, *Bill Sherman rescues smart business ideas—which are often trapped on the written page or the keynote stage—and evolves them into tools that transform enterprise organisations.

This article first appeared at ivyexec.com.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.