Have you discovered your message?

getting started message Apr 02, 2024

Earlier today, I was teaching a public speaking class to a group of college students. They’re a great and diverse group of people from all kinds of backgrounds. Their personalities are quite different as well. Some of them are outgoing while others are reserved. Some readily share their opinions while others keep their opinions to themselves.

At the end of the semester, one of the tasks they’ll need to complete is to give a 10-minute speech to the class. Some of the students can’t wait to do this while others, understandably, are quite nervous about it. Today’s class was geared toward helping them prepare for this assignment.

I don’t know what part of that task would seem most challenging to you, but I was surprised to discover that one of the biggest challenges facing some of the students isn’t the mechanics of actually delivering the speech. It’s something else. Something more foundational. In fact, several students expressed to me that their biggest struggle at this point is deciding what to talk about.

That’s quite similar to one of the most common struggles faced by online influencers and content creators like us. Many of us have a lot of things we want to share, but we’re not always sure what we should be talking about. Yet this is one of the most critical issues we need to address if we’re going to be successful online.

Over the course of the next few weeks, we’re going to be taking a deeper dive into what I call the 5 D’s of Online Platform Development. The first “D” in the list is “Discover your message.” But how should we go about doing that? And what if the message we started with doesn’t seem to be connecting with an audience? Should we pivot to something new?

When people are attempting to discover their message, I usually ask them to ponder two things…

1. What questions do you keep getting? There’s probably something that the people who know you best keep asking you. To certain people, you’re the expert in at least one subject. What is that subject? What kind of help do people regularly come to you for?

2. The second thing I like to ask people to ponder is this; “What could you talk about for 30 minutes with no preparation, no notes, and no loss of enthusiasm.” If you identify something when you ask yourself that question, it’s likely that you’ve succeeded in discovering what the message of your online platform should be.

But it’s important to ask these questions together because there is no guarantee that just because you want to talk about something there’s an audience who wants to pay you to learn more about it. For example…

I know a lot of trivia about music that was released in the 80s and 90s. I can tell you about many of the popular bands and groups from that era. I know their lyrics, their personal backgrounds, the order in which they released their albums, and in some cases, I can tell you who produced those albums and how many copies sold. But the sad truth is that whenever I share that knowledge, people either laugh or roll their eyes. It would probably be difficult for me to build, grow, and monetize an online platform on that subject even though I can talk about it at length.

The same is true with professional wrestling. I followed it extremely closely when I was growing up and I still follow it now. In fact, this Sunday, I’m going to be attending Wrestlemania 40 in Philadelphia. I can tell you all about the stars, the promotions, the territories, and the history of the business, but I’m fairly certain I won’t be building, growing, or monetizing a platform related to that subject because that’s not really a topic people ask me questions about. In fact, I would assume that many people probably think my IQ is on the low side when they hear about my interest in wrestling. They’re probably right, but if you ever want a crash course in human psychology or group dynamics, you can learn a lot about both by studying the wrestling entertainment industry.

My point in bringing those subjects up, however, is to illustrate the reality of what people are actually looking for from me. The questions I get usually center around two subjects; online platform development and theology. And if I’m honest, these are two of my greatest interests. I care about helping people share their message online, and I care about helping people grow spiritually. These are the areas that people regularly reach out to me seeking my help, so these are the messages I’m most likely to succeed at sharing or building a business around.

To clarify things a little further if you’re attempting to discover your message or even refine your message, it's often been said that most people primarily care about subjects that help them improve their health, wealth, and relationships. The work I’m doing with Platform Launchers certainly addresses those topics. The work I’m doing with Bible Study Headquarters, my faith-based platform, also speaks to these things.

If you’re trying to establish an online platform of your own, please consider these suggestions. Figure out which questions you’re regularly receiving from people who need your help, and determine if any of these questions address a topic that you could enthusiastically talk about for long periods of time. The sweet spot for discovering which message you should focus on lies between those two realities.

If you’ve been working on your platform for a little while, but it isn’t gaining steam just yet, this might help you identify what’s wrong. Either you aren’t being consistent enough with content creation to effectively build an audience, or you haven’t figured out what people really want you to talk about.

© John Stange, 2024

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