At any given moment, we each have a “biggest” problem.
There are tons of other problems, of course, but one single problem is the reigning king of our hill of distraction, fear, and anxiety.
Maybe you got a sideways glance from the boss when you walked in. Or perhaps your sweetie was a little standoffish this morning. Maybe you’re worried Rick is going to score the promotion you’ve been chasing for the last year.
It could be a huge catastrophe or some little annoyance most people wouldn’t even call a problem—to the sufferer, it’s a problem.
You’ve got one. I’ve got one. Just like everybody.
If you want to get on people’s radar, you have two choices:
- Solve the problem. If you’re able to wave a magic Internet wand and alleviate their suffering, go for it.
- Distract them for a moment. Help them to forget about the problem temporarily.
Sometimes, you’ll be in a position to help them get out of the hole wherein they find themselves. It’s not impossible but, alas, it’s comparatively rare.
If that’s the case, best to go the distraction route. Here’s why.
It’s no accident that people watch hours and hours of television every day and obsess over what’s happening on their favorite shows. If you’re not sure what I mean, walk into a crowded room and start talking about Game of Thrones.
Similarly, it’s not a fluke that grown men will traipse around a football stadium drunk, shirtless, and hoarse from screaming in support of their favorite team.
Neither of these activities solves a problem for the participant.
But you can bet your ass they help the participant forget whatever’s ailing them for a little while.
I have good news: you can offer the same type of respite. I’ve done it for years and it’s pretty easy. Specifically, you need three ingredients:
- Something they can relate to; I typically use stories from my own life, but any kind of shared experience will work (a news story they’ll be aware of, for example). This is where you’ll be funny and engaging. Storytelling is huge here.
- A succinct expression of the resulting emotion: annoyance, felicity, surprise, etc. Validate this.
- A thematic connection to their big problem. Be clever and don’t worry too much if the connection is tenuous—you’ve already delivered the goods.
Works like gangbusters. I can attribute mountains of business success to those three bullet points.
You just need to know your audience; otherwise, you’re not going to connect and it’ll feel like noise to the recipient.
Get this right, and you'll become a kind of healthy addiction that brings a bit of informative sunshine to your reader's day.