When I was in grade six, we were asked to prepare and present an oral speech on any topic of our choosing. It was also a contest. The highest mark would win a trophy. A trophy!!
Now one thing you should know about me in grade 6 was this: I didn't have a lot of friends. My hair was cut 'pageboy style,' I had no curves developing whatsoever and I was the furthest from athletic you can get. I preferred to write poetry. Yup.
So there I was, an introvert, and I had to give an oral presentation. Terror took hold of me. I deliberated for days over a topic. The teacher said to us "Just pick something you're interested in. Find out all you can about it. It should be easy." and smiled her warm encouraging smile.
Easy? Easy?! I was interested in poetry. And boys. And my ukulele. Not exactly the riveting topics a class of highly critical 11-year-olds want to hear about.
So it came to my mind that the boys in the class were the ones I had to impress the most (next to the teacher). They were the ones who were most likely to snicker and most likely to mock. So I thought: what would they like?
Probably something eclectic. Unexpected. Likely all the other girls would give presentations about kittens or unicorns, horses or hairstyles. All the more reason to choose something off the wall. Boys like insects, I thought. Then: what insect is worth giving a speech about?
I'd heard bees were highly sociable, had intricate behaviour patterns and well: they made honey, so how bad could they be?
I researched thoroughly, prepared and practiced.
It was the day of the presentations. As predicted, the boys gave speeches about soccer and World War II, and the girls did their unicorn thing.
And then came the bees.
I had no idea how this was going to be received. Not only by the class, but by my teacher.
As I spoke, and ran through the intricacies of bee behaviour, I noticed something I'd never seen before in the faces of my peers... interest! They seemed to be engaged. When I finished, nearly breathless, everyone clapped. Not a polite clap. But a LOUD clap!
Even more shocking was the mark. 44/45. I won the competition. I received the trophy. My first trophy!
At the time, I had no idea why I won. But I know now. As an advertising and marketing specialist and copywriter, I try to LIVE through my target audience. Getting behind the psychology of what my reader wants, who they are, and what drives them on any given day is my number one priority when I write.
That day, I gave my audience what they wanted. Something entertaining. Something different. Something memorable. Something relevant to their interests, not mine.
And now, whenever I write anything, I stop and think "What is motivating my audience today? What are they interested in hearing?"
Because noone is going to listen if you're just talking about yourself, your company, your products, your interests.
So why not give them what they want instead? Something that will create a buzz.