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TL;DR: How simple summaries can revolutionise your marketing, meetings and sales

By giving your audience your insights from the get-go rather than waiting for a big reveal, you can transform every interaction into something exceptional.

TL;DR: You need to become an expert summariser. Instead of drip-feeding your audience information, you need to hand them the power. By providing a TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) at the start of your meetings, client conversations and sales pitches, you lay the groundwork for exceptional interactions between you and your team, clients and prospects.

What is a TL;DR?

A TL;DR frontloads all of the key information your audience needs. It isn’t about setting up what’s to come, it’s about handing it over immediately. 

In a pitch, for example, you wouldn’t start with a big, broad predictive statement about how your service will change the world. Instead, you start by giving your audience the information they need to come to that conclusion themself. That’s the power of the TL;DR – by giving up your information at the start, you encourage natural buy-in from your audience. Without a TL;DR, all you can do is hype up everything you’re going to say. That isn’t nearly as impactful.

In his book The 3-Minute Rule, Brant Pinvidic encourages you to ask yourself one question: What happens if the fire alarm goes off? 

What if your team huddle, your client meeting or your pitch gets cut off early? Would you still have been able to get your point across? 

Take a look at the first paragraph of this article. 

By handing you the reins immediately, you can engage with the rest of this article more closely. You’re not scanning for the key insight that’s going to make everything else come together – you already have the fundamentals. 

Twist endings are for movies, not marketing

TL;DRs are all about serving your audience. They stop you from wasting their time. Think of it like “anti-clickbait.” 

If this article wasn’t relevant to you, you’d realise right away and could stop reading after the first paragraph instead of being let down at the end. 

You can provide a TL;DR in a meeting. Don’t just summarise what the meeting is going to be about – show everyone. For example, instead of summarising that you’re about to give a financial presentation on this year’s bonuses, start by showing what the bonuses will be. Then, everyone can engage throughout without wondering whether or not they should hold back on any comments or questions. You turn what would be a presentation into a dialogue.

When you’re interacting with a client, providing a TL;DR helps get them up to speed as quickly as possible. It puts you on the same side, not against one another. Demonstrate your worth by showing openness and respect, not by by withholding information until an impactful moment.

What about in marketing itself? Look around. 

Marketing is all about TL;DRs 

Slogans, social posts, Google Ads – the list goes on.

Done well, they tell you everything you fundamentally need to know from the word go. That’s what a good TL;DR is all about. 

Look at the titles of some great marketing books:

  • They Ask, You Answer: A Revolutionary Approach to Inbound Sales, Content Marketing, and Today′s Digital Consumer by Marcus Sheridan 
  • Chase One Rabbit: Strategic Marketing for Business Success by David Parrish
  • The 3-Minute Rule: Saying Less to Get More from Any Pitch or Presentation by Brant Pinvidic 

Each one reveals its core concept right away: answer the questions your audience is asking, focus your marketing efforts on one goal at a time, keep your pitches to under 3 minutes.  

They get their audience up to speed before they’ve even opened the front cover. The next few hundred pages let them build on that foundation in order to help the audience as much as possible. 

Why would you keep reading after they’ve already given you their fundamental insight? Because they’ve shown you respect, the willingness to communicate clearly and a desire to put helping you above all else. Why wouldn’t you hear them out?   

TL;DRs put you and your audience on the same side

As the old adage goes: 

Tell ’em what you’re going to tell ’em. Then tell ’em. Then tell ’em what you told ’em.

That’s what this article has been about: giving you a useful insight, then giving you examples and context for the original TL;DR to help make it even more useful. 

Whether you’re running a meeting, pitching your service or marketing it, TL;DRs are about leaving your ego at the door and handing the power over to your audience. 

Trust me, they’ll thank you for it.

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