Communication is tough. Tougher when you get it wrong.
As a designer, you might fail to sell the value of better research to your team.
Your team continues plodding along, guessing from one decision to the next.
As a result:
- You continue working without the infrastructure to measure the impact of your work.
- Your team continues operating as a feature factory.
- Your next interview stalls when they ask about the outcome of those pixels you pushed.
As a creator or builder, you miss the chance to connect with your target audience.
Time and money wasted on content and campaign creation.
You try to reach too many demographics at once and end up reaching no one at all.
Our success dies with our ability to communicate.
Don't fall for the common myths.
They're the root cause of slowed career growth, low conversion rates, and low-performing content.
These myths are traps disguised as feel-good answers.
- "If I use more words, my point will become clear."
- "Better PowerPoint presentations will help me explain."
- "More meetings will get us on the same page."
I sold a $1M startup, established a 13-year career, and grew a 290k audience by avoiding these pitfalls.
It only requires a small change in your thinking.
Use the 3 components of communicating an idea.
Needle-movers talk about output, outcome and impact.
Everyone else talks about deliverables. Or "what I want".
But how can we use that to win customers, align stakeholders, and build audiences?
First, let's take a look at each component.
Outputs are the materials we create, the tasks we perform, and the work we deliver.
- Designers output wireframes, prototypes, or research documents.
- Creators output videos, blog posts, or educational products.
- Solopreneurs output digital products, services, or marketing campaigns.
When I create content, I'm publishing my output: an educational Tiktok video.
Outcomes are the short-term problems we solve and the behaviors we change.
- Designers improve time-to-task, NPS scores, and ease-of-use.
- Creators improve content watch time, impressions, and subscriber count.
- Solopreneurs improve monthly revenues, product value, and free up their time.
When I publish my content, the outcome is that I'm able to reach more people.
Impact is the ultimate goal we're trying to achieve. The real needle-moving stuff.
- Designers want their work to impact the world, accessibility, and systems in an org.
- Creators and Solopreneurs want to impact their fame, money, lifestyle, or ability to help others.
When my content is able to reach more people, I'm able to impact people at scale.
And I measure that when I receive comments like this:
This tells me that my output has achieved outcomes that have made an impact.
But understanding the 3 components is just the first step.
To win customers and influence people, we need to understand if they're thinking about outputs, outcomes or impacts.
The Story of the 3 Brickmasons
Some people think in terms of output. Some in outcomes. And others in impact.
To illustrate this, a brief story:
A pedestrian walks along a road. He comes across three brickmasons hard at work.
Pedestrian: What are you doing?
Brickmason 1: I'm building a cathedral.
Brickmason 2: I'm creating a place of worship and community.
Brickmason 3: I'm honoring the grace of God.
Have you ever worked with a Brickmason 1? Advocating for more worship space doesn't solve her problems. But proposing systems that supply her with more bricks are likely to excite her.
If your customer is a Brickmason 2, he probably doesn't care about how quickly you amass bricks. He only cares about having a place of worship and community.
To win customers and influence people, ask yourself:
- Is she thinking in terms of output, outcomes or impact?
- What do I want?
- What do our desires have in common?
And frame your communication accordingly. Good luck!