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QuickBites: How Stating a Problem Positions Your Solution?

Whether we’re delivering motivational talks, presenting to corporations and organizations, or speaking on other occasions, we, as speakers, often deliver solutions. That’s precisely what we’re supposed to do, right? Well, if the situation calls for providing solutions, then yes, that’s right … ah … that’s half right.


Why is it only half right? Well, a solution is only half of an equation. The other half is the problem. And, all too often, we proudly provide solutions but don’t state the problems.


In fact, not establishing a problem before providing a solution is one of the reasons that so many presentations — as well-delivered as they may be — ultimately do not serve the audiences.


Why does this happen? One reason is that, when crafting our talks, we didn’t give any thought to informing the audience about the problem.


Another reason is that we assume the audience either already knows the problem or that it will be so obvious, they’ll figure it out.


So, the solution to this problem is an easy one. All you have to do is state the problem. Well, maybe there’s it a bit more to it.


What you want to do is not merely define the problem but to define a specific problem. Here’s an example.


If in your presentation, you address the local tax problem, that could mean many different things. As you see it, the problem may be that property taxes are too high and should be reduced, while personal income taxes are too low and should be increased. Or perhaps you contend a large percentage of taxes should be directed to the public school system. Being specific defines and clarifies. As the saying goes, “Specific is terrific!”


Indeed, your talk might address a problem so well you believe it should be evident to the audience what it is you’re trying to solve, but why would you want to make the audience work so hard? And, what if it’s not as evident as you thought


I show my clients a simple technique I call the benefit statement. Directly after they deliver their attention-grabbing opening, they state the problem, the solution, and the benefit the audience will receive from that solution. It’s easy. It’s quick. It’s effective!


Now, let’s look at another situation where stating the problem helps but is often neglected. Let’s say you’re at an event, and someone asks you the inevitable question, “So, what do you do.” You might answer, “I’m a real estate agent.” That might be an accurate answer, but it’s not a productive one.


But if you’ve graduated from Networking 101 to Networking 201, you know that being more specific starts conversations and possibly makes you more referable. So, you step it up a bit and answer, “As a real estate agent, I help first-time homebuyers get into their dream home!”


The problem with this is that people often regard an answer like this as a statement of fact, which may or may not spark a conversation. And it’s not likely to lead to referrals.


However, if you’re in Networking 401, you know to answer the question by first stating the problem you solve. For instance, you might reply, “You know how many first-time homebuyers often settle for starter homes because they think that’s all they can afford? Well, as a real estate agent who specializes in helping first-time homebuyers, I work with them so their first home is their dream home!”


Whether this begins a conversation or not – and it most likely will – when the other person is speaking to someone who says they’re looking to buy their first home, which real estate agent will come to mind?


There are other instances where stating the problem both provides context and strengthens your solution. Sales comes to mind. But no matter the situation, if you don’t routinely provide the problem with your solution, strive to include one. You’ll hear and feel the difference, and you’ll serve your audiences well.