Deliver meaning, not just facts.
A good message distils a lot of information down to a few words that encompass what is really important to the listener.
At the heart of any communication, or verbal attempt to influence another, there is an underlying conclusion that you want that person to reach. An expression of this conclusion in a few meaningful words is called a message.
Finding or creating an effective message is the most valuable skill and habit of the influential speaker. If you message well, you leave no doubt of your intent or position, and you are likely to be understood and remembered. Without a clear message, on the other hand, presenters and presentations are soon forgotten. Here are some tips on messaging:
Give meaning—your interpretation of facts and intuitions—not the facts and intuitions themselves. An effective message is:
Relevant—express value to the listener (answer the WIIFY question ‘What’s In It For You?’)
Positive—address the solution, not the problem. Show us what to do, not what we can’t do. We are easily tempted to go on and on about the difficulties: resist this and go to ‘a better future’, or the solution.
Simple—demand minimal time or effort to understand and internalise. One short sentence is enough.
Dynamic—make a declarative statement driven by an active verb; i.e. dynamic, not static; an action, not a theme. Cause the language centre of the brain to create an image and feeling of action in the mind of the listener.
Concrete—appeal to the physical senses, not abstract ideas. (Can you see an image of it?)
Credible—back it up with facts, or base it on things that are known to the listener.
Prepare your message, then use it as a pivot for your entire speech. Repeat it often.
With focus and practice, a master communicator can develop a meaningful message in a few minutes or seconds.
I offer coaching or training on messaging, and also consult on high-stakes pitches or facilitate meetings to find and refine messages.