For most educated persons, Murphy’s Law is the fundamental law of the universe, even more critical than birth, death and gravity.

In its purest type, Murphy’s Law says: “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.” There is an critical but frequently neglected corollary: “Many things that can’t go incorrect, will go incorrect anyhow.”

I am now pleased to report a loophole. In at least one particular essential area of human activity – expository (non-fiction) writing and public speaking – Murphy’s Law does not have total coverage. This is since it can be counteracted, at least partially, by a rival principle that I not too long ago discovered and immodestly get in touch with Yaffe’s Law

Yaffe’s Law states: “If you give men and women what they want first, they are probably to accept anything else you want them to have. If you give them what you want first, probabilities are they won’t accept anything at all.”

In short, in a text or a speech if you quickly and securely engage the audience’s interest, any important missteps later on will be muted, if not completely counteracted.

There is of course absolutely nothing new in this idea. It is just one more way of saying that for greatest impact, you ought to write or speak beginning from your audience’s point of view. Nevertheless, Yaffe’s Law is revolutionary because its new formulation focuses focus on this fundamental principle of persuasive communication as by no means before.

Applying the principle implies that you know the audience’s point of view. If you are inclined to consider this is practically impossible because point of view can adjust so extremely much from topic to topic and audience to audience, you would be generating a severe error.

In most instances, readers or listeners share a single overriding concern: Will this text or presentation sufficiently reflect my interests and apprehensions that I should pay any consideration to it? They want this query answered virtually instantaneously otherwise they will stop reading or stop listening.

In quick, your 1st job, even prior to deciding what you want say, is to figure out what your audience desires to hear. In other words, give them what they want very first, i.e. a good answer to this universal question. If you then continue positively answering it, your audience will follow you virtually anyplace.

Right here are a couple of examples to demonstrate how the notion operates.

A Written Example

Beneath, the “Original” shows a text as it might have been written with out Yaffe’s Law. The “Revision” shows how it actually was written with Yaffe’s Law.


A piece of electronic gear installed in automobiles could permit insurance coverage companies to monitor the driving behavior of their clients.

Every single time a motorist utilizes the vehicle, the device will record the roads being traveled and the time of the journey, and send the information by means of satellite to the insurance coverage business.

With this information, the organization will be capable to calculate the insurance premium for every person journey primarily based on the relative risk of crashes on the diverse roads at various times of the day. The motorist will obtain a monthly or quarterly “usage statement”, similar to a telephone bill, itemizing the insurance coverage price for every use of the automobile.

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

Since best dui attorney anaheim of the reduce risk of crashes, trips on superhighways will expense significantly less per kilometer than on city roads, whilst 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 automobile.

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

The organization will then calculate the insurance coverage premium primarily based on an assessment of the relative threat of crashes on the different roads at different instances of the day. Motorists will obtain a monthly or quarterly “usage statement”, comparable to a phone bill, giving the insurance cost for every journey.

Due to the fact of the reduced danger of crashes, trips on superhighways will price less per kilometer than on city roads, even though trips on nation roads will also expense less per kilometer than on city roads due to the fact . . . . (the text continues)

The “Original” was clearly written from the point of view of the insurance coverage sector. Even so, basically moving the fourth paragraph of the “Original” to the 1st paragraph of the “Revision” charges everything. Who would not want to know how to save hundreds of dollars on their automobile insurance coverage?

By providing the readers what they want initial, a text that may possibly have been of interest only to “techno-nerds” abruptly becomes exciting to virtually every person. Moreover, even if the rest of the text is not superbly written, people will almost certainly continue reading anyhow, simply because it is in their interest to do so.

A Spoken Example

With regard to Yaffe’s Law, the written word and the spoken word are precisely the identical. Nevertheless, speaking makes it possible for use of strategies that merely would not operate on the printed page.

The following speech was delivered on the subject of integrity in politics. Once once more, the Original” shows how it may possibly have been written with no Yaffe’s Law. The “Revision” shows how it actually was written with Yaffe’s Law.


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

Julius Nyerere was born in 1922 in Butiama, a little village in what los angeles attorney was then Tanganyika. He was the son of Nyerere Burito, a Zanaki tribal chief. At that time schools in Tanganyika have been in quite short provide. Julius started attending Government Major School at the age of 12, which he completed in three years rather of the normal 4. He did equally nicely in secondary school 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 college teacher of biology and English before 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 where he started building the suggestions and techniques that eventually helped him lead Tanganyika to independence from Britain and turn into the country’s very first president. In contrast to a lot of other independence movements, Nyerere achieved independence with out a single drop of blood being shed. (The speech continues)


We live in a cynical world where the values of truth, honesty and integrity look to be in short supply. We are therefore always seeking for examples of such values in action, especially with regard to politicians.

I would like to supply you such an example from Africa. You have almost certainly never ever heard of this man, but for me he stands as a true model of integrity. Can you guess who he may be? (Speaker pauses a few moments). No, it is not Nelson Mandela, as I picture numerous of you were pondering. However, I am certain Mr. Mandela would be far more than pleased to be deemed in the same light as this individual.

His name is Julius Nyerere. Julius Nyerere was the man who led then Tanganyika, nowadays referred to as Tanzania, to independence from Britain in 1961. In contrast to many other independence movements, this one succeeded with out a single drop of blood becoming shed.

I had the privilege of living two years in Tanzania shortly soon after independence. Being a city boy, for me Tanzania was fairly a revelation. I virtually lived in a mud hut, suffered via a drought, saw leprosy, and skilled each malaria and dysentery. All of these factors affected me. But acquiring to know Julius Nyerere as a political leader was actually a life-altering knowledge.

When Nyerere became head of state, he was so well-known that he could easily have taken on the trappings of a king or potentate. But he did specifically the opposite. He chose to live really modestly, due to the fact that was his nature.

Much more importantly, he inspired self-assurance in everyone, and in no way betrayed that confidence, since that also was his nature. He of course had political enemies, but they have been critical of certain of his tips and policies—but in no way the man. The worst I ever heard anybody say about him was, “President Nyerere is performing all the incorrect issues for all the right factors.” (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? 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? Absolutely not!

Poor writing is nevertheless poor writing, and poor speaking is still poor speaking, so you need to consistently be alert not to fall into poor habits.

On the other hand, by strongly focussing your attention on giving the audience what they want 1st, when you begin providing them what you want, it will be in a context that appeals to their most fundamental instincts. This, of course, is what persuasive communication is truly all about.

Philip Yaffe is a former reporter/feature writer with The Wall Street Journal and a advertising communication consultant. He currently teaches a course in excellent writing and excellent 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 obtainable from Story Publishers in Ghent, Belgium ( and Amazon (

For additional info, contact:

Philip Yaffe
61, avenue des Noisetiers
B-1170 Brussels, Belgium
Tel : 32 ()2 660 0405