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Marie Forleo: Hey, it’s Marie Forleo and you are watching MarieTV, the place to be to create a business and life you love. And today, I have a question for you. Do you ever struggle to clearly communicate your message? Whether you want to get media or a new job or a new client, being able to be clear, concise, and compelling is vital for success. And my guest today is going to show us how. Emmy-nominated speaker, strategist, and media trainer, Rachel Hanfling helps clients catapult their brands to new heights. Whether it’s one-on-one or teaching at Harvard, Rachel’s approach is based on 20 years of producing television for big names like Oprah Winfrey and Anderson Cooper. She’s received thousands of pitches that can tell you how to make yours one of the few that makes the cut. Rachel’s mission is to show you how to deliver on-demand when it counts.
Marie Forleo: Rachel, I’m so excited to have you here.
Rachel Hanfling: So thrilled to be here. I love MarieTV. I watch it. I learn from it. Glad to be here.
Marie Forleo: So, this is so valuable for all of us because I think all of us have a message that we want to communicate, whether we want to pitch something to an employer, we want to get a new job, we want to get on TV, we want to get in a magazine. And you are such a pro. So, if we want to simplify our message, where’s the first place that we should start?
Rachel Hanfling: Well, I just love this topic because I see the many ways that it can really help somebody. It can help you get media attention, but it also helps you in your everyday life, when you’re pitching clients, customers, if you’re a doctor with patients. This topic is such a game-changer, if you do the work.
Marie Forleo: Right.
Rachel Hanfling: So, where do you want to start? Well, I’ve noticed over the years that most people do have difficulty simplifying their message. And the interesting thing about this is that most people don’t even, well, many people don’t realize that this is their problem. And I always say that if you confuse people, you lose people. You don’t want to confuse people. You have a matter of seconds to make an impression on a producer, on somebody that you’re trying to impress for a job or a gig or something like that. So, everybody needs to know what’s most promotable about themselves. And there are four ways that you can really hone in on that and up the ante.
Rachel Hanfling: Number one, I always say you need to meet people where they are to take them where you want them to go. So, what does that mean? That means you need to figure out what the person you’re communicating with cares about. Okay? So, I could be talking about one person or I could be talking about millions of people in an audience, same concept. Once you figure out what they care about, then that’s your point of entry. Then, you go from there.
Rachel Hanfling: Okay. So, let me give you an example. When I was producing, sometimes folks would call up, and they’d pitch me something, and it wouldn’t be appropriate for the show. And I would have a sense that they probably were not watching the show. So, sometimes I would ask them to watch the show. And they inevitably would say “no” or “I haven’t watched it in a long time.” And both of those don’t really work. Obviously, you need to be watching the show, but also, you need to be watching it currently because shows change over a period of time. Shows can sometimes change very quickly. So, I would encourage them to go back and watch the show and if they still felt like there was an appropriate pitch, to come back to me. And this is something that everybody can keep in mind, any time they’re pitching. I would encourage anybody to watch a show for at least a week before they consider pitching it.
Rachel Hanfling: Another thing that’s really important to keep in mind is that every pitch should be personalized. Sometimes people send out a hundred pitches, 250 pitches, whatever the number is. Let me tell you, producers know when they’re getting those pitches. And you want the pitches to be personalized for that show, and even if you can, for that producer.
Marie Forleo: Yeah, I mean, there’s something really important that you said and if anybody watching, you’re like, “Oh well, this doesn’t relate to me because I don’t want to necessarily get on TV.” This relates to you if you want to pitch yourself for a job.
Rachel Hanfling: Absolutely.
Marie Forleo: If you want a new client, if you’re trying to get on a particular blog, if you’re… Like anything, that personalization, I can’t tell you, Rachel, how many times something will come through our desk, so to speak, where I can tell it’s just a form letter. And I’m like, “You have no idea. Do you even know?” They spell, first of all, they call me Maria. And I’m like, “You really think that’s going to get you anywhere?” But so, anyway, just to put a pin in your point about the personalization piece, it is so important.
Rachel Hanfling: It’s funny that you mentioned that because I was talking to a friend of mine when I was getting ready to do this interview with you, and she said, “Sometimes, they spell my name wrong. Sometimes, they even send me a letter that was meant for a different show.” And I mean, you want to let the producer know that you really care, and that you’ve put the kind of effort into it that anybody would want if they were being pitched.
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Rachel Hanfling: It’s really important.
Marie Forleo: So, curious from you, from all the years working on Oprah and Anderson Cooper and everything that you’ve done, have you ever seen someone try to pitch you, and they kind of got it all wrong? You know they didn’t watch the show, but did anyone ever come back and get it right and totally wow you, or did they lose credibility just right from the get-go and they never really circled back?
Rachel Hanfling: Anytime something ends up on TV, it’s a collaboration between the producing team and the person who’s going to be on the show. So, there’s always an evolution. Maybe something isn’t quite a fit, but then the producer has a way to make it a fit. But generally, what people want to realize is, your credibility is always on the line. So, if you’re pitching something that’s just completely inappropriate, it says something about you. Not to say that there’s no way to overcome that, but it can say something about you.
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Rachel Hanfling: And it does.
Marie Forleo: And I wanted to ask you that because I think it’s important for all of us to recognize, we all have memories, and our reputation is important. So, to take the time to really do this right from the get-go, it’s vital.
Rachel Hanfling: Yeah. And to think of it in a positive way, I remember the people that really got it.
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Rachel Hanfling: And those are the people that I want to go back to, over time, because everybody wants to work with people who get it, whatever it is they do, right?
Marie Forleo: That’s huge. I mean, that’s, I can see that, again, even if you don’t want to pitch something on television or you’re not trying to get media, somebody who gets it, who actually pays attention to the details, takes the time to add that personal connection to connect with someone where they’re at. They do, you’ll remember them for a long time. Okay. This is fantastic. What is step number two to simplifying our message?
Rachel Hanfling: Okay. So, step number two, I want to encourage people to let go of insider jargon and really speak in words that everybody can understand. It doesn’t mean you don’t know the insider jargon. I just want to encourage people to use words that everybody can understand. So, what happens is, every industry has their own way of speaking. This is more commonly an issue for people who work in more technical fields, but every industry does have their own way of speaking.
Rachel Hanfling: So, let’s take doctors for example. Okay. So, there’s a big need for doctors on TV. Let’s say, for example, somebody famous has a brain aneurysm, God forbid, right? And a producer needs to find a doctor who can explain it. Okay. So, that doctor is going to get on the phone with that producer and do what we call in the industry a pre-interview. That’s basically the gateway to the opportunity. You hit it out of the park, you have a good chance of ending up on TV. You don’t, well then, the producer moves on to somebody else.
Rachel Hanfling: So, that doctor has two choices. That doctor can either speak about that aneurysm in a way that he would speak to or she, he or she of course, would speak to their colleagues at a conference who all have the same knowledge base, or they can speak in everyday words. Well, if you want to be on TV, you need to be using everyday words that are relatable if possible. Visual cues. You want to make even the most complicated topic as simple as possible. Really important.
Marie Forleo: It’s so important. I will tell you, I’ve even been in business meetings where someone’s talking to me and they start using words, and I feel like a little kid in… I’m like, “I got to raise my hand. I don’t know five things that you just said and I’m lost.” And even though I sound, I’m sometimes to myself, sound a little silly, I won’t let the conversation go on because I’m already lost back there. So, of course for the media, this is so important. And I think for many people, they’re so used to their jargon but they also want to sound smart and sound intelligent. We got to dumb it down a little bit. We got to just break it down to a level that everybody can understand.
Rachel Hanfling: And the thing is that breaking it down to a level that everybody can understand is smart.
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Rachel Hanfling: Because if you’re not connecting with people-
Marie Forleo: Yeah, that was horrible. I just said dumb it down, but it really is making it smarter.
Rachel Hanfling: Right. But I think what you said is great because a lot of people view it that way, but actually, the really… And people say that to me. “I’m worried I’m going to be dumbing down whatever I have to say.” So, I’m actually really glad you said that. The smartest thing you can do is make someone able to understand you.
Marie Forleo: Yeah.
Rachel Hanfling: And then, okay, so let’s… I’ve already explained how this can really help you with media, but what I find to be so fascinating is, if you continue with the doctor example.
Marie Forleo: Sure.
Rachel Hanfling: Learning these skills serves you in your profession. So, I was working with this doctor last year, coached him. He is an incredible doctor. He also took my course. Within a month or so of working with me, he really wanted to be implementing what we were doing. And he was really a go-getter, which I love. And he started changing the way that he approached his patients and his patients’ families. He started practicing what he was learning, many of the things that we’re talking about today, about how to be successful with media and in the way you communicate. And what happened was, within that month, he soared to the top of his group in patient satisfaction scores. Because his patients were so much happier dealing with him. And he actually felt that it made him a better doctor. That’s across all professions. So that, I’m talking about doctors here, but this could be anybody who is watching today. It’s not just doctors. Does that make sense?
Marie Forleo: Completely makes sense. And I know even dealing with people, whether they’re designers, they’re programmers, they’re people that work in film or television, when the jargon starts coming out, it’s like, I check out, I don’t know if I can trust them. I don’t know what the heck is going on. And I’m like, “Can you please speak in layman’s terms?” As I’m thinking, as you’re talking, always the folks that treat me like, “Hey, I know this engineering industry. Let me explain it to you so that you really get it so you can understand what we’re doing.” Those are the people that I wind up hiring.
Rachel Hanfling: Absolutely. And those are the people you want to watch on TV and those are the people that you want to work with. Absolutely. The other thing is, most people are not giving you 100% of their attention, whether they’re watching you on TV or whether they’re in a meeting with you, quite frankly. And so, you want to keep that in mind when you’re explaining too, that you want to keep things at a level where people can kind of tune in and tune out a little bit.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. So, next, point number three is getting rid of extra details. How do we do that?
Rachel Hanfling: This is so common. Every one of us has so many details that we could share about any story, any message. And so often, people say to me, there’s so much I could be talking about it. I don’t know what I should include. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what I should leave out. Well, okay, you want to start with something that’s going to reel people in, and you know that because you’ve done your research and you also know what’s most promotable about you, and you’re going to marry those. And then, you want to include the details that strategically forward whatever it is you’re talking about.
Rachel Hanfling: Now, when you get towards to the point where you want to finish up, you also want to put a button on it. That’s what I like to say. So, putting a button on it means you don’t just end on a random detail. You sort of circle back to your messaging to help tie it all together for people. And when you do this, this is so important, because when you start meandering to some other kind of detail that doesn’t relate to the topic that you’re trying to convey, that’s when you lose people. Then people are confused. They don’t really understand your messaging. You’ve got to stay on point, and think as you’re speaking. Does this detail really pertain to what I’m trying to convey?
Marie Forleo: Yeah. So, this is huge. I mean, I know for me, it’s been so interesting when someone asks me about what I do or “how did you get started, Marie?” And I think exactly what you said in my head, “Well, how far do I go back?” Because this is a big story and there’s a lot of twists and turns. So, I completely relate to what most people think. It’s like, what do I keep in the story and what do I let go of to keep it tight and right?
Marie Forleo: And one of the things that I’ve always done is think about, how do I want to position myself in this particular instance? So, for example, if I want to highlight the fact that I’m a multi-passionate entrepreneur, I will talk about my coaching practice and at the same time, I started in dance and choreography and then I did this other thing. So, I’ll highlight that. If I want to highlight the fact that I learned about Internet marketing, I’ll talk about how I took an e-book from a little tiny PDF, went through, self-published it and sold like 8,000 copies, and then took it to a regular publisher and sold it in 13 languages.
Marie Forleo: So, I’m always kind of selecting pieces of my story based on A, like you said, what the media outlet is wanting me to talk about and B, how I want to position myself. Is that something?
Rachel Hanfling: Absolutely. So, you’re subconsciously doing or maybe consciously doing point one. You’re thinking about, “Who am I talking to, and how are they going to relate to whatever it is in my story, and how can I most successfully connect with them?”
Marie Forleo: Yeah. So, when I’m communicating myself and when I’m coaching other people, whether that’s one-on-one or in a group, however it is, there’s constantly a sensor, a ding, ding, ding that’s going off in my head. “This point is moving us forward. This point isn’t moving us forward.” And you obviously want to stay on the path of, “This is moving us forward.” The second you start veering off, then people don’t know what to do with what you’re saying. And people want to be able to follow you.
Rachel Hanfling: Yeah.
Marie Forleo: You want to make it easy for people to follow you. You want to serve up what they want, authentically, on a silver platter for them.
Rachel Hanfling: Yeah. And I think your point about putting a button on the end, it’s something I was always kind of trained with, especially from doing a lot of fitness videos, was telling people, “Here’s where we’re going, this is the move we’re going to do,” doing it, and say, “this is what you just worked out right now.” So, it was always that little coming back, circling it up, making a bow, bing.
Marie Forleo: And it makes such a difference, right?
Rachel Hanfling: Yeah.
Marie Forleo: Really, really does.
Rachel Hanfling: Because then people can follow you.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. So, number four, which is great and this is probably perhaps one of the scariest things to do, but it’s probably also one of the most useful.
Rachel Hanfling: Okay. So, number four is where you tie it all together, right? So, if you do one, two, and three, but you don’t do number four, it’s not going to work as well. You got to do number four. So, here’s what happens. I want to encourage people to test-drive their messaging on people that are outside of their expertise and outside of their family and friends. Okay? So, typically, what happens is people, understandably, test-drive their messaging on the people they feel most comfortable with, people they feel most comfortable with, family, friends, people who share the same expertise. Well then, those people tell you that you’re great, because that’s what they want to do. They want to be supportive, and also, they think like you so they’re more inclined to think you’re great and understand you. What you really want to do, no matter if you’re trying to get feedback on a product, on a book, on your pitch for media, whether you’re going into an interview, whatever it is, you want to test on people that don’t share your expertise, and aren’t your family and friends and don’t know everything about your life story.
Rachel Hanfling: And when you do that, you realize where people don’t understand you. You realize where people are interested. You realize where people are not so interested. That’s the really valuable information. And what I think is so key about this and that I love about it because I’m someone who really loves a challenge, is that messaging is not something you learn and then you’re done, right? You continue to work on your messaging throughout your life. And that’s what great communicators do because they know how important it is to communicate successfully. And they always want to be better.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. And I think also for most of us, our messaging evolves as we evolve, as our businesses evolve, as who we become in the world evolves. The things that we want to highlight, the things that we want to focus on, and also how we want to be perceived, changes over time. So, this is an evolutionary kind of process. So, I got to ask you because I can hear my viewers going, “Okay, well, if I’m not going to test-drive with my family and friends, where am I going to find people to test-drive on?” What would your answer be?
Rachel Hanfling: Okay. Well, once I was preparing for a speech, this was last spring, and I, this is just an example, I just off the top of my head since you asked. And I met this girl in the gym. Really nice girl. She told me she’d worked in finance and she was between jobs and I said, “I’m doing a speech soon. I know you don’t really know me, but do you mind coming over to my house and listening to my speech?” I mean, I liked her. She wasn’t, I mean, I got a good vibe off her.
Marie Forleo: Of course, of course.
Rachel Hanfling: But she was completely, she didn’t know me from Adam and she seemed like a very nice girl, and she was very much outside of my expertise. And she sat and she listened to me speak for about an hour and she actually had great feedback. Okay. So, you don’t have to ambush somebody in the gym, although it was really nice. But my point is, you can meet people anywhere. It’s also why it’s a great idea to have a coach, because when somebody’s coaching you, that’s their job to be your guide, and help give you that barometer, but you don’t have to invest in that. There are people all around us who maybe we don’t know them that well. You can find them and it can really be successful.
Marie Forleo: Yeah. I think also too, just obviously, this is MarieTV and you guys have so much fun in the comments. So, you can totally use the comments to test your messaging out.
Marie Forleo: Rachel, this was absolutely fantastic. Thank you so much for coming.
Rachel Hanfling: You’re so welcome. I loved it. And I’m really excited for everybody who’s watching because I know the power of what we’re talking about today, and I can’t wait to see what they do with it. So, so exciting.
Marie Forleo: Now, Rachel and I would love to hear from you. Which of the four steps is going to help you the most to simplify your message and communicate more effectively? And now, if you’re up for it, you know our community is awesome, so you can workshop your message right here and get feedback from all of our lovely people.
Marie Forleo: Did you like this video? If so, subscribe and share it with your friends. And if you want even more great resources to create a business and life that you love, plus some personal insights from me that I only talk about in email, get yourself over to MarieForleo.com and sign up for email updates. Stay on your game and keep going for your dreams because the world needs that special gift that only you have. Thank you so much for watching and I’ll see you next time on MarieTV.
Marie Forleo: Trash on the ground. Trash on the ground.
Marie Forleo: Hey. Hey.
Marie Forleo: Are we all clear? No one’s clear and we’re talking about clarity. We done did it.