I like words. I like them a lot. As an essayist and travel writer, I spend time considering things like whether “luminous” or “radiant” is a better fit in that sentence, and I love those kinds of granular decisions about language.
But this isn't why I'm a communications consultant. I could have become an editor or an English teacher if I only wanted to think about words. I’m a communications consultant because I like ideas.
Ideas are powerful. Joseph Stalin declared them more powerful than guns.
There are few things as gratifying as discussing an idea with someone and seeing the click happen when they get it, they get why the idea is exciting, why it matters, and what implications it has for them.
These are often the moments that spark deep friendships or great romances, like when George Constanza fell in love with a woman because she found his ideas on toilet paper interesting. It just doesn’t get better than that.
The same thing happens when an organization shares its ideas with others. You find other people and organizations who also think your idea is great, and who want to work with you or buy from you because they believe in your idea.
The exciting thing about my work is I get to help others share ideas that matter. I love taking the exciting ideas my clients have — about philanthropy, finance, web development, community development, homelessness, health, and many other topics — and sharing them in a way that others will get excited about them, too.
Whether you own a business or run a charity, there’s a powerful idea behind what you do that makes you really excited. (If there isn’t, consider whether you should be in a different line of work.)
Here’s how you can harness the power of your idea for your organization.
1 - Explore your idea.
Find that idea and consider it. Why is it exciting? How can it change the lives of your clients/customers/beneficiaries to make their lives easier, less stressful, or more fulfilled?
This is simple and significant. Take time to really sit with your idea and consider it from all angles. Why is this idea the one that turns your crank? Why are you into clean water rather than maternal health? Or improving financial systems rather than strengthening human resources? What about your idea can be compelling to someone who has never considered it before?
2 - Share your idea.
Now, ask yourself: are you sharing this idea? Is it out there on your website and in your marketing materials for people to get excited about it?
This can be scary. Sometimes it's easier to keep our ideas to ourselves, because we're afraid people will reject them. In our personal lives, we're afraid our ideas will alienate our loved ones; in our professional lives, we're afraid our ideas will alienate our clients or donors, or boss or colleagues.
Sharing your idea takes courage, but it's worth it. As Seth Godin wrote, “[If an idea] merely stays where it is and doesn't join us here, it's hidden. And hidden ideas don't ship, have no influence, no intersection with the market. They die, alone.”
If you have a fantastic idea that is hidden, that idea doesn’t matter.
3 - Share your idea in a way that makes sense to others.
Look again at the places you’re sharing your idea and ask yourself if the idea is being shared in a way that will resonate with your audience.
Will it instantly elicit that click of recognition? Are you using words or concepts that are your audience will understand? Do you show how your idea can make their life better?
If you have a fantastic idea but you're communicating it in a way that others don’t understand it or don’t see its relevance to them, you won't be successful at persuading others to act, landing clients or donors, or seeing your idea spread.
To summarize: Get clear on your idea and why it’s exciting. Then share it in a way that it will matter.
What’s your big idea? I’d love to hear about it in the comments section.