Grab a mop!

I know.  Another Obama post? Put your politics and feelings about health care and the economy aside to learn a great lesson here. Obama brings ideas to life with his words. He did it again on Tuesday at a rally for Senator Creigh Deeds, Virginia’s democratic candidate for governor. With the election just one week away, Obama stumped for Deeds and drew on his own experiences to inspire Virginians to action.

“When I showed up after inauguration, they had left a big mess on the floor. So I got a mop, and I started cleaning up their mess. That’s okay, I don’t mind.  But you know — you know, it does bother me when they start saying, ‘You’re not mopping fast enough.’ ‘You’re not holding the mop the right way.’ My attitude is, why don’t you grab a mop?”

He used the concrete analogy of a mop instead of what most politicians and business leaders might have said (warning: this might sound all too familiar to you):

“After inauguration, it became even more apparent that our economy is in crisis. As we strive for bipartisanship, they continuously blockade our endeavors, impeding on our progress instead of joining the effort.”

But instead, he mop drew a picture. Simply. Right away, you can see that mess and that mop. Then, he tugs at the hardworking, roll-up-your-sleeves drive in all of us – calling us to action, instead of making our eyes glaze over.

This is a quick example of the power of being concrete to drive a message home. We thoroughly explore concreteness (and all Made To Stick SUCCESs principles) in our Decker Made To Stick Messaging workshop – and find that people walk away saying that it will change the impact of their messages immediately.

Think about this the next time you chime in at a meeting and want to get your point across. What could you do to remove abstractions and make your message resonate?

2 comments on “Grab a mop!

  1. Great post! We can all learn a valuable communication lesson from Obama’s speech. He created a bipartisan message that inspires us to get involved. It is easy to criticize, but much harder to be an active part of the solution. Obama effectively used the mop analogy to catch the attention of his entire audience, regardless of political belief.