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June 14, 2024 4 mins

Know your purpose to make your work more clear

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Speaker 1 (00:03):
Welcome to Before Breakfast, a production of iHeartRadio.

Speaker 2 (00:08):
Good Morning, This is Laura. Welcome to the Before Breakfast podcast.

Speaker 1 (00:16):
Today's tip is to get.

Speaker 2 (00:18):
Clear on what question you are answering. That way, what
you say or the information you provide is more likely
to produce the results that you intend. So I have
edited a fair number of people's essays and op eds
in my life. I've noted that many start with a

topic in mind, but not necessarily a clear purpose. Someone
has decided to write a piece about the policy of
foreign aid or healthcare, or about education, or about pets
on airplanes.

Speaker 1 (00:53):
They have a lot of interesting facts, quotes, and stories,
but they haven't necessarily thought about what question they are answering.
I always joke to people that they need to answer
whether they are for it or against it. That's a
little simplistic, but if you are writing a persuasive essay,

that is usually the question you are answering. Do you
come out for it or against it? And what should
we do about it? Even if you are not writing
an op ed, you are probably answering some sort of
question with any content you create, and knowing what that
question is can make your work a lot more clear.

Let's say you're giving a presentation to managers at your
company about the new performance review process. That's fine, but
there are lots of different questions you might actually be
answering with that presentation. Maybe you are asking the managers
for feedback so the process can be refined, So your

question is how can this be better? But maybe your
CEO has declared it to be a done deal, so
now you're trying to soothe people's nerves about change. The
point of your presentation is to answer the question of
I'm not sure how this is all going to go,

and can you make me feel less nervous about it?
Asking yourself what question am I answering anchors you in
the purpose of your presentation or your rite up. This
keeps you focused and helps ensure that you achieve your goals.
This is another example. If you're giving a presentation about
the work your nonprofit is doing to a group of

potential donors, the main question you are likely answering is
why should I support this group financially versus all the
other things I could be doing with my money. If
you're presenting to current donors, on the other hand, the
question is more likely am I sure that my money
is doing good things, or if I give more generously,

will you be able to do even more cool things.
When you're clear on the question your presentation or write
up is answering, you have a filter to help you
decide what does and does not belong. So, for instance,
if you are giving a presentation about that nonprofit to
potential clients who might be receiving some of your help,

they might not care quite as much about your really
cool funding mechanism, even if it is really cool. You
want to answer the question of whether you can help
them effectively. Keeping in mind the question you are answering
will help make the most of your and your audience's time.

You always want the answer to the question is this
worth my time to be a resounding yes. In the meantime,
this is Laura. Thanks for listening, and here's to making
the most of our talk. Thanks for listening to Before Breakfast.

If you've got questions, ideas, or feedback, you can reach
me at Laura at Laura vandercam dot com. Before Breakfast
is a production of iHeartMedia. For more podcasts from iHeartMedia,
please visit the iHeartRadio app, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you

listen to your favorite shows

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Laura Vanderkam

Laura Vanderkam

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