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“What I want to talk about” – six words that say I don’t care about what you think

by Mark P. McDonald  |  December 6, 2010  |  7 Comments

You have heard these words sitting in the audience or perhaps you have spoken them when you have the floor.  Either way the message behind these six words is clear.  I am here.  This is what I want to say.  I do not really care about what you hear.

Sure, I might have been interested in what you were going to say – after all, I am here  – but now you just turned me off.

Why?

Well people come to a meeting or a presentation to learn more about the subject they care about the subject. They care more about that subject than about the speaker.  This is fine because the value is in the information they hear; the rest is either entertainment or packaging.

The words ‘what I want to talk about’ place the emphasis on the ‘I’ and are often the entre into the speaker going off topic.  Politicians use it all the time to redirect the conversation or debate.  These words are the speakers equivalent to a stiff arm in football.

I raise this point as we are entering an intense period of communications as the year ends and a new one begins. The end of the fourth quarter and the start of the first are heavy with communication as we set the past in context and plan for the future.

Audiences need to be aware of these words, recognize the stiff arm and step forward and assert themselves to have the speaker address the topic rather than tell you what they think.  Sure there is value in experience, but experience is by definition occurred in the past and is worth less unless it is put in the context of the subject of the meeting.

Speakers need to recognize what they are truly saying to the audience when they use these words.  Hopefully, a little alarm bell will go off in their heads when the words slip out of their lips, as they will recognize what they just told the audience.  It is easy to get back on track and the audience will appreciate it – after all that is what they came for the information.

“What I want to talk about” is one of those little things that people say without thinking what it really says to the audience and says about the speaker.

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Category: personal-observation  signs-of-weak-management  

Tags: personal-musing  signs-of-weak-management  

Mark McDonald, Ph.D., is a Vice President and Fellow Emeritus in Gartner for General Managers Program.




Thoughts on “What I want to talk about” – six words that say I don’t care about what you think


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mark P. McDonald, Jovi Umawing and Suvish Viswanathan, Uptime Devices. Uptime Devices said: “What I want to talk about” – six words that say I don’t care about what you think http://bit.ly/eM6iB7 […]

  2. Jeremy P. says:

    Let’s mince words, why don’t we?
    I’ve heard those 6 words a thousand times from great speakers and never batted an eye.
    Why is this article even here?
    What’s the point?
    Arguing over semantics with a PhD proves one point: You know too much about very little.

  3. Mark McDonald says:

    Jeremy

    Thanks for your comments. I am not trying to mince words but rather point out that speakers, including me, say much more than they think they are saying.

    The idea for the post occurred to me when I was in an audience when a speaker said that and used it as an excuse to talk about something completely different than the planned topic. People in the audience were frustrated, some even angry. All because it was obvious that the speaker thought more of themselves and their own words than the audience, their time and attention.

    So the idea was to highlight what those words really mean and the impression they give to the audience. That is the point. its also the reason why the post is flagged as a personal observation.

    If you are there to hear a great speaker, then these words are fine because you are there to hear the person speak not the topic. There are few greater speaker/performers out there so most people who use these words are using them as a verbal stiff arm something that I am not sure they are even aware of.

    Thanks for your comments.

  4. […] that needs what you have to offer, maybe you just need to keep taking one small step at a time.“What I want to talk about” – six words that say I don’t care about what you think by Mark M…Quote: You have heard these words sitting in the audience or perhaps you have spoken them when you […]

  5. I’ve also heard that type of phrase when a speaker was trying to turn discussion back on track. Sometimes groups or charismatic people divert a focused conversation to their focus and one needs to refocus it. So it will depend a bit on the words that come before and after this phrase.

  6. Mark McDonald says:

    Gary thanks for your comment and you are right it can be used effectively when a member of the audience is trying to take over the conversation. So it does depend on when the phrase is uttered. The post was more of an observation about speakers who use it at the beginning of a talk and use it to redicect the topic away from the original reason for meeting.

    Agreed that when its used in the middle, it is most likely used as a positive statement to bring people back on topic or to point out when the conversation has veered away from the speakers area of expertise. Acceptable and welcome in either case, particularly when the speaker is willing to admit their own limitations and respects that audience enough to not try and pull the wool over their eyes.

  7. […] “What I want to talk about” – six words that say I don’t care about what you think  […]



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