WIIFM. What’s in it for me? This is the universal question every audience member is asking themselves when they’re attending a meeting, sitting through a presentation, or listening to a speech.
WIIFM has become a popular acronym in business. It’s a reminder to business people that whatever it is they’re talking about – or let’s face it, sometimes huckstering! – they need to consider the unique needs and interests of their audience and direct their remarks so they convey the potential benefits to their audience, especially if those benefits may not be obvious.
You know from your own firsthand experience as an audience member that WIIFM runs through your own head plenty of times, that you want something in return for your time and attention, and that you feel more satisfied, more impressed (with the speaker), more “heard” and valued when you get something out of a talk.
Conscious or subconscious, people are waiting to have their self-interests met. Sometimes the “me” is more like an “us” – a collective me, as in “okay, what’ve you got to give us?” – because the group has a common self-interest. Regardless of whether it’s individual or collective, the bottom line is this: You, the speaker have a topic and an objective. The audience has a self-interest. Your work is to bring those two factors into alignment. If you can do this, it will always, always, always serve you well.
So, if you’re the speaker, here are 3 simple ways to think about addressing your audience’s WIIFM:
New. Given your topic, is there a new angle or twist? An update or a surprising bit of news? Do you have something that other people don’t know yet? Something this audience hasn’t heard or considered yet?
Useful. Given your topic, is there an application this audience could use? Can you help them sort through or think through a common problem in some way? Do you have a solution to something they face?
Beneficial. Given your topic – and, more importantly, given what keeps your audience up at night – what is it that you have that will help them? What is it about your topic that will benefit your audience? Is there a silver lining for them? A net gain?
The companion acronym to WIIFM, in SmartMouth vernacular, is IAAT – It’s all about them! No matter what, your audience’s needs and interests and experience reign supreme. Think through what you have that’s new or useful or beneficial to them, and plan accordingly for your next turn at the front of the room!
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