So What?

Summary Written by Jill Donahue
"The net result of reading this book is that you will instinctively know the best way to communicate your message to engage your audience so that they want to follow you."

- So What?, page 5

The Big Idea

The So What Benefit

"Every single time you communicate, you must ask yourself what’s important to your audience. Have you thought about the key points of your presentation from their perspective or could they be saying ‘So what?’"- So What?, page 137

Do you know your So What Benefit? What is important to them? If you don’t know, Magnacca suggests you simply ask! Specifically he suggests you ask a member of your target audience to complete the following sentence:

All I really care about is _____________.

This will move you away from the logical (and less influential) ostensible benefit to the emotional (and more influential) So What benefit. For example, did you buy an iPod for its “portability” (ostensible benefit) or because you will have 1000 songs that you want in your pocket (So What benefit)?

Emotion drives decision making, not logic. The So What Benefit helps you connect to that emotion. Move away from the benefit that seems like the reason people buy your product and move to the so what benefit that causes them to say “I love it, I want it, I’ll buy it.”

Insight #1

Prepare the Soil

"Neil, here’s the simple reality. This game was over before it began. This audience made up their mind that it was not useful to listen to you even before you started talking. Let me tell you why."- So What?, page 57

Does your audience or customer have a preconceived notion about who you are and what you do? Does that lead them to believe you might just waste their time? How are you preparing the soil so that your seeds or ideas can germinate?

One of the ways Magnacca suggests that you can prepare the soil is to position yourself just like you would your product or service. Understand what is important to your audience and then focus on those benefits that bring meaning to them in the form of a personal biography. You can think of it as a document that answers the questions most people have before they agree to work with you – but are uncomfortable asking.

While this isn’t a new idea (as far back as Napoleon Hill, the idea has been suggested) it has not been implemented as well as it could. In short, it should include:

  • Who you are
  • Your character, competence and common ground
  • What makes you unique

Want to make one for yourself? Magnacca offers 7 steps to help you create your biography and examples at

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Insight #2

It's about them, not you

"The quickest way to reduce nervousness is to focus on the needs of your audience rather than be concerned about how you look or sound in front of the audience."- So What?, page 136

Sometimes we get so focused on what we have or what we want to tell them that we forget what they need or want. For example, people don’t go to the hardware store because they want to buy a quarter-inch drill. They go because they want to make quarter-inch holes. Are you too focused on your quarter-inch drill that you’ve forgotten all about what they wanted the drill for?

If you concentrate too much on what you want to tell them, you may forget their needs. An antidote? Develop an inquisitive mind to discover the needs and a genuine interest in meeting the needs of your audience.

There are many ways to improve how you influence others. Magnacca offers one significant way that he calls the So What mindset. This will help you clarify your thinking and communicate what matters most to your audience. He proposes that if you help enough people get what they want, by showing them how what you have can benefit them, then you can have anything you want.

Read the book

Get So What? on Amazon.

Mark Magnacca

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