If I could tell you exactly what you were thinking right now, would I have your attention?

Whether it’s business or personal relationships, we all want to be heard. We want people to hear what we have to say. We want people’s attention.

Here’s the terrible truth: people only listen to what they want to hear. Attention spans are short. We’re bombarded with ads, we scroll through infinite feeds, and we are masters at tuning out. If we don’t want to hear something, we don’t listen to it—it’s that simple.

In order to be heard by people, you have to convince them that you’re reading their mind. “I was just wondering that. That’s exactly what I was thinking! How did you know what I needed?”

The answer is super simple: No, you’re not actually reading their mind, you’re doing the one thing almost nobody is doing—listening.

Most people are “wait-to-talkers,” not listeners.

There’s a difference between listening and waiting to talk. Listening is a skill that takes practice.

What Are You Consuming?

When it comes to business, what does it matter if you speak and deliver something perfectly when no one is listening? If you’re talking about the wrong things, it’s not going to matter. No one is going to care.

In order to make what you say relevant, you need to be listening. This means you need to be listening to the right things. If you’re listening to too much, you’re not going to be able to cater to an audience. You have to know that audience. You have to curate what you listen to.

  • What are you consuming?
  • Are you listening to, focused on, and invested in your audience?
  • Are you getting to know them?
  • Are you getting to know their problems?
  • Are you getting to know what matters to them?
  • Are you getting to know what’s important to them?
  • How are they articulating the things that they’re looking for?

If you want to reach an audience, you have to become intimately familiar with their fears, their struggles, and their language.

If you’re not being heard, you’re not being a good listener. People listen to what they want to hear. A good listener knows what’s relevant.

Once you know what someone needs, it’s a matter of delivering it in a package of what they want.

How to Make People Listen When You Speak

Think of someone you listen to that you admire. Think of the people who, if they open their mouths, you drop everything and you’re on the edge of your seat waiting for the first gold nugget to fall out of their mouths. Now evaluate the things those people have said:

  • Are they consistently relevant or are they consistently irrelevant?
  • Are they adding to the noise or are they contributing value?

These people typically only open their mouths when they have something valuable to say. They’re waiting for a time when they have a message of value to deliver.

Just Creating Media Does Not Guarantee You Will Be Heard

It’s worth noting that you can’t just put content out and expect to be heard. Anyone can start a blog, nearly anyone can start a podcast now, and anyone can put up a YouTube video. But do you have something valuable to say?

Value is not just some buzzword I’m saying, you need to really think about it. Why are you doing this? If you’re doing this for you, people see right through that. You need to think about them. What are they looking for? That’s what I mean when I say, “Provide value.” Don’t just ask questions like:

  • “How do I get people to look up to me?”
  • “How do I get people to subscribe, watch, and listen to me?”

You need to start serving an audience. Put yourself in their shoes and ask them the question, “What are you looking for?”and then deliver that.

People don’t have time to listen to you think out out loud and hope that you say something of value. You owe it to them to prepare and figure out what your message is before you put something out there. If you can’t prepare by writing, then you need to go through the process of thinking out loud into your own personal recording and then refine that. Figure out your message first.

Ask yourself beforehand: What are people going to get out of this? What do I want to leave people with?

  • The more you stream your consciousness, the greater your output of noise is.
  • The greater your output of noise, the lower the chance that when your mouth is open something valuable is coming out.
  • The lower the chance you’re offering value when your mouth is open, the less people will hear you.

Want to know how to read minds? Listen.

So few people actually do it, they’ll swear you read their mind when you say exactly what they just told you!

To Be Heard, Answer the Questions People Are Asking

The best blog posts, podcasts, newsletters, or videos I’ve put out there were the ones that were a direct response to a question someone asked. Those have been the most well-received. People relate to that and they feel like I’m reading their minds.

You’re probably wondering:

  • “How do I get them to ask those questions?”
  • “How do I get people to tell me what they want to hear?”

People are already telling you what they want to hear, you just have to tap into it. It could be as simple as asking them point blank, meeting them in person, tweeting at them, sending a message, commenting on their stuff, or asking in a newsletter. At the end of the first autoresponder email you send on your newsletter, put this question:

  • “What is your biggest struggle with [x] right now?”

You’ll be surprised at the responses that come back. People will start telling you exactly what they’re looking for, and you’ll have the exact topics you need to start making content.

People will tell you their biggest struggles and then they’re going to listen when you come back with a direct response to it.

They’ll feel like you just read their minds even though they told you what they wanted to hear.

Make Your Voice Mean Something

The goal is to give your voice weight. Your voice only has weight when you’re not using it to say things that don’t matter; when you’re not using it to just put noise into the world; when you’re not just adding a bunch of fluff; when you’re not throwing things that aren’t what people are asking for into their face. You have to be relevant. You have to listen in order to be heard.