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For most educated persons, Murphy's Law is the basic law of the universe, even far more essential than birth, death and gravity.

In its purest kind, Murphy's Law says: ?Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.? There is an critical but typically neglected corollary: ?Many factors that cannot go wrong, will go wrong anyhow.?

I am now pleased to report a loophole. In at least a single critical region of human activity - expository (non-fiction) writing and public speaking - Murphy's Law does not have total coverage. This is simply because it can be counteracted, at least partially, by a rival principle that I recently discovered and immodestly contact Yaffe's Law

Yaffe's Law states: ?If you give folks what they want initial, they are most likely to accept anything else you want them to have. If you give them what you want first, chances are they won't accept anything at all.?

In short, in a text or a speech if you swiftly and securely engage the audience's interest, any significant missteps later on will be muted, if not fully counteracted.

There is of course absolutely nothing new in this concept. It is just an additional way of saying that for very best impact, you ought to create or speak beginning from your audience's point of view. Nevertheless, Yaffe's Law is revolutionary due to the web link fact its new formulation focuses focus on this fundamental principle of persuasive communication as by no means just before.

Applying the principle implies that you know the audience's point of view. If you are inclined to think this is virtually not possible since point of view can adjust so really significantly from topic to subject and audience to audience, you would be making a severe mistake.

In most cases, readers or listeners share a single overriding concern: Will this text or presentation sufficiently reflect my interests and apprehensions that I ought to spend any focus to it? They want this question answered practically instantaneously otherwise they will quit reading or stop listening.

In brief, your first job, even ahead of deciding what you want say, is to decide what your audience wants to hear. In other words, give them what they want very first, i.e. a constructive answer to this universal question. If you then continue positively answering it, your audience will stick to you virtually anyplace.

Here are a couple of examples to demonstrate how the thought operates.

A Written Example

Beneath, the ?Original? shows a text as it may possibly have been written without having Yaffe's Law. The ?Revision? shows how it actually was written with Yaffe's Law.


A piece of electronic gear installed in automobiles could enable insurance coverage organizations to monitor the driving behavior of their consumers.

Each time a motorist uses the auto, the device will record the roads becoming traveled and the time of the journey, and send the info by way of satellite to the insurance firm.

With this data, the business will be able to calculate the insurance coverage premium for each and every person journey primarily based on the relative danger of crashes on the different roads at different instances of the day. The motorist will acquire a month-to-month or quarterly ?usage statement?, comparable to a phone bill, itemizing the insurance expense for every use of the automobile.

By agreeing to the program, motorists could save hundreds of dollars on their automobile insurance.

Because of the decrease threat of crashes, trips on superhighways will expense less per kilometer than on city roads, although trips on nation roads will also expense significantly less per kilometer than on city roads because . . . . (the text continues)


Motorists could save hundreds of dollars on their automobile insurance coverage by allowing their driving habits be monitored by a satellite-tracking device installed in the car.

Every single time a motorist uses the car, the device will record the roads getting traveled and the time of the journey, and send the data to the insurance company.

The company will then calculate the insurance premium primarily based on an assessment of the relative risk of crashes on the various roads at various instances of the day. Motorists will get a month-to-month or quarterly ?usage statement?, comparable to a telephone bill, providing the insurance price for each journey.

Simply because of the reduced danger of crashes, trips on superhighways will cost significantly less per kilometer than on city roads, although trips on nation roads will also expense much less per kilometer than on city roads since . . . . (the text continues)

The ?Original? was clearly written from the point of view of the insurance coverage market. Nonetheless, simply moving the fourth paragraph of the ?Original? to the very first paragraph of the ?Revision? charges almost everything. Who wouldn't want to know how to save hundreds of dollars on their automobile insurance?

By giving the readers what they want 1st, a text that may have been of interest only to ?techno-nerds? all of a sudden becomes fascinating to virtually everyone. Moreover, even if the rest of the text is not superbly written, individuals will almost certainly continue reading anyhow, due to the fact it is in their interest to do so.

A Spoken Instance

With regard to Yaffe's Law, the written word and the spoken word are exactly the same. Nonetheless, speaking permits use of techniques that merely would not function on the printed page.

The following speech was delivered on the topic of integrity in politics. Once once more, the Original? shows how it may possibly have been written without Yaffe's Law. The ?Revision? shows how it truly was written with Yaffe's Law.


I want to talk to you this evening about a man I admire extremely much. His name is Julius Nyerere and he was the initial president of Tanzania after it gained independence from Britain in 1961.

Julius Nyerere was born in 1922 in Butiama, a little village in what was then Tanganyika. He was the son of Nyerere Burito, a Zanaki tribal chief. At that time schools in Tanganyika were in quite brief supply. Julius started attending Government Principal School at the age of 12, which he completed in three years alternatively of the regular 4. He did equally properly in secondary college and won a scholarship to Makerere University in Uganda, then the only university in all of East Africa.

When he returned to Tanganyika, he worked for three years as a secondary school teacher of biology and English ahead of winning a scholarship to attend the University of Edinburgh, exactly where he obtained a Masters of Arts Degree in history and economics. This is also exactly where he began establishing the suggestions and techniques that ultimately helped him lead Tanganyika to independence from Britain and turn into the country's first president. Unlike many other independence movements, Nyerere accomplished independence without having a single drop of blood getting shed. (The speech continues)


We reside in a cynical globe exactly where the values of truth, honesty and integrity look to be in quick supply. We are consequently usually looking for examples of such values in action, especially with regard to politicians.

I would like to provide you such an example from Africa. You have possibly never heard of this man, but for me he stands as a accurate model of integrity. Can you guess who he might be? (Speaker pauses a few moments). No, it is not Nelson Mandela, as I envision many of you were thinking. Nevertheless, I am particular Mr. Mandela would be much more than pleased to be considered in the very same light as this particular person.

His name is Julius Nyerere. Julius Nyerere was the man who led then Tanganyika, these days referred to as Tanzania, to independence from Britain in 1961. As opposed to a lot of other independence movements, this 1 succeeded with no a single drop of blood getting shed.

I had the privilege of living two years in Tanzania shortly right after independence. Being a city boy, for me Tanzania was really a revelation. I virtually lived in a mud hut, suffered through a drought, saw leprosy, and seasoned both malaria and dysentery. All of these things impacted me. But getting to know Julius Nyerere as a political leader was actually a life-altering expertise.

When Nyerere became head of state, he was so… popular that he could effortlessly have taken on the trappings of a king or potentate. But he did precisely the opposite. He chose to live really modestly, because that was his nature.

Far more importantly, he inspired confidence in everybody, and in no way betrayed that self-assurance, because that also was his nature. He of course had political enemies, but they had been vital of certain of his concepts and policies?but never the man. The worst I ever heard anyone say about him was, ?President Nyerere is dui lawyer riverside carrying out all the wrong things for all the appropriate causes.? (The speech continues)

At this point the speaker could insert all the info about Nyerere's background and education, which seemed so tedious in the ?Original?. Why? Simply because rather of tedious, the audience would now discover it instructive and integral to understanding the man in whom their interest has been effectively ignited.

So does Yaffe's Law pardon poor writing and poor speaking? Totally not!

Poor writing is nonetheless poor writing, and poor speaking is nevertheless poor speaking, so you must constantly be alert not to fall into poor habits.

On the other hand, by strongly focussing your attention on giving the audience what they want initial, when you start off giving them what you want, it will be in a context that appeals to their most simple instincts. This, of course, is what persuasive communication is genuinely all about.

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/function writer with The Wall Street Journal and a marketing and advertising communication consultant. He at the moment teaches a course in great writing and very good speaking in Brussels, Belgium. His lately published book In the ?I? of the Storm: the Straightforward Secrets of Writing & Speaking (Nearly) like a Skilled is available from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium ( and Amazon (

For further data, get in touch with:

Philip Yaffe
61, avenue des Noisetiers
B-1170 Brussels, Belgium
Tel : 32 ()two 660 0405
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Submitted on
February 25, 2014