Your Message Is Not An Excuse

For every message, there’s an audience.

This is true even for the messages that don’t deserve an audience. Think of all the magazines, TV shows, books, and radio shows that have succeeded in spite of protests throughout the history of mass media.

Stories of bigotry and stories of compassion alike find their home in the hearts of many. Stories of truth and stories of deceit both have a read-made fan base.

The implication for you and I is this: If no one is listening to us, it isn’t because our message is uniquely true or historically unique. It’s because we’ve failed to figure out how to communicate our message effectively enough to be heard by the people who are looking for it.

It’s easy to self-righteously dismiss the people who have an audience as if they’re a bunch of superficial sell-outs who appeal to the base interests of the shallow-minded, but this is an attitude that fails to understand the whole story. There is no such thing as a message that’s rejected or received based on content alone.

For every person who attracts millions of followers with shallow messages, there are millions of content creators who fail in their efforts to replicate those results. If a shallow message were sufficient to gain the world’s attention, such messages would always sell regardless of how they’re delivered. The opposite is also true. For every sophisticated thinker or straightforward truth-teller who turns people off, there’s another such thinker who succeeds at helping people open their minds.

The next time you’re inclined to denounce the world as foolish merely because it doesn’t seem to be interested in what you have to say, think twice. Before assuming that your failure to be heard is evidence of people being uninterested in truth, try looking at it as an opportunity to learn more about how to relate to your desired audience. Hone your craft. Improve your delivery. Increase your empathy. Study the people you talk to as much as you study the ideas you talk about.

Being a person of influence isn’t just about knowing what to say; it’s also about mastering the art of knowing when, how, and why you should say it.