Sticking to your focus

Reading Alan Stevens’ excellent PR & Media blog from last week, I was impressed with his article about the dangers of straying outside the boundaries of your focus of expertise.  Alan allows re-publishing with attribution, so the text is reproduced below:

Alan Stevens - The MediaCoach

Alan Stevens - The MediaCoach

“DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT?

Forgive me for being so blunt, but I have a very simple view of speeches. Imagine two circles on a page. One contains all of your knowledge. The other contains everything that your audience is interested in. If those circles overlap, then you should deliver a speech to that audience, on the topic(s) in the area that overlaps. If the circles don’t overlap, you shouldn’t even consider delivering a speech.

Of course, you wouldn’t be as foolhardy as some speakers I’ve heard, who have no connection with their audience at all. I’m sure you only speak when you have a topic that is of interest to your listeners. However, problems can arise if you stray out of that overlapping zone, and start talking about things that you don’t really understand, in order to please (or rather in an attempt to please) your audience.

From time to time, all speakers can suffer from the “edge effect”, where they reach the borders of their expertise, but then stray over the line because the audience seems to like it. In fact, it’s being disrespectful, and could lead to disaster, especially in any Q&A session. The best way to avoid the problem is to ask the event organiser to give you contact details for a few likely audience members, and have a chat with them a few weeks beforehand. Then base your speech solely on the overlap of your knowledge and their interests. It works every time.”
This information was written by Alan Stevens, and originally appeared in “The MediaCoach”, his free weekly ezine, available at www.mediacoach.co.uk.

I think that’s a great reminder of the dangers of forgetting where you really add value (and where you don’t); and it’s not just speakers who suffer from what Alan calls “the edge effect”.  Many consultants and coaches – especially if times are a little lean – find themselves straying out of their area of true expertise.  While they probably still know more about the topic than their clients, they’re not sufficiently well-versed in it to add the sort of value their clients are paying for.  Net result is either a whole load of stress for the consultant, or a disgruntled client – often both.

Far better to admit your limitations, stick to your focus, and bring in an associate who’s a true expert – at a margin, of course!  The client will respect your integrity, and will also get a better result.  And you’ll get the satisfaction – and probably a referral or two – that comes from using your network to provide truly great client value.

About Andrew Horder

Founder of the blog at TheBusyFool.com, Andrew has been working with business owners for many years, helping them find and maintain their unique Focus - those activities and opportunities that they love, and will produce their success, what Andrew calls your Joyful Genius! Andrew's first book, The Busy Fool's a to Z of Loving Work is available from Amazon http://andrewhorder.com/amazon-azlw
About The Author

Andrew Horder

Founder of the blog at TheBusyFool.com, Andrew has been working with business owners for many years, helping them find and maintain their unique Focus - those activities and opportunities that they love, and will produce their success, what Andrew calls your Joyful Genius! Andrew's first book, The Busy Fool's a to Z of Loving Work is available from Amazon http://andrewhorder.com/amazon-azlw