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Remember First, Second, Third

by Randall Craig on October 13, 2010

Filed in: Blog, Communication, Make It Happen Tipsheet

Tagged as: , ,

Many blogs I read I don’t like – the posts have no interest to me.

Have you ever read a blog posting or listened to a presentation where the topic didn’t resonate, or where you felt excluded? If so, the writer made a common mistake: “you” were squeezed out by “I”.

John Smith had travelled the world, so he was surprised when he got a call from his credit card company. This is what they said…

The above three examples engage the reader in different ways. The first, written in the first person, is all about the writer; it is self-centered, and doesn’t engage at all. The second, written in the second person, is a conversation between the writer (or speaker) and you: engagement is higher because you’re involved. The third example, written in the third person, is a story where the two of you are discovering what happens together as the story unfolds. This can have the highest engagement factor.

If you want your colleagues, clients, suppliers, friends and family to remember what you say, then you must find a way to engage them when you are communicating. Too often, when we speak or write – even the simplest of interactions – we use language that excludes, and we never create the engagement we need. Speaking or writing using the second or third person is a quick way to turn this around.

This week’s action plan: During your next critical presentation, take your audience with you with example stories, and personalize the rest by using “you” instead of “I”. While it may feel uncomfortable, with practice it will come naturally. Using the second and third person always means you’ll come in first. (Or, at least be remembered for the right reasons.)

Note: The Make It Happen Tipsheet is also available by email. Go to to register.

Randall Craig

@RandallCraig (follow me)




Randall has been advising on Web and Social Strategy since 1994 when he put the Toronto Star online, the Globe and Mail's GlobeInvestor/Globefund, several financial institutions, and about 100+ other major organizations. He is the author of seven books, including the recently released "Everything Guide to Starting an Online Business", and speaks across North America on Social Media and Web Strategy. More at and

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