Great Messaging is Edgy

Great messaging is edgy. It’s easier to be safe—like when you’re sailing.

For any of you who have ever been on a catamaran, it’s safer to have both hulls of the sailboat in the water. But to win, you have to go up on one hull—and the professional sailors even hang off the edge during a race.

When creating great messaging, you have to cut through the waves – through the jargon, through the abstractions – in order to connect.

I recently helped an executive prepare a mainstage presentation to five thousand people in Vegas. When we started, his content was loaded with buzzwords and statistics so it read fairly flat and forgettable. Is your next presentation the same way?

I challenged this executive to be provocative and more memorable. So, how do you do that?

  • Include stories. Share a personal story that relates to your content. This might feel risky, but everybody loves a good story. Stories are emotional and have a strong impact on memory. They also help our audience visualize our point of view.
  • Come up with an analogy. Analogies help us convey a complex point quickly. Ask yourself, “Can I relate this to something else?” And don’t overcomplicate it. Keep it simple so the audience can have a quick ah-ha!
  • Be plain-spoken. This means using concrete, conversational words to help people ‘get it’. Writers at The Skimm do this well.

Playing it safe is exactly what your audience expects you to do. Instead, surprise them with something unexpected. Or, shift gears and make them laugh. Anything that deviates from the current flow will help grab your audiences’ attention and keep them tuned in.

So, in your next town hall, finals pitch, QBR or board meeting, challenge yourself not to be predictable. Take down barriers, be vulnerable and get up on that edge. Your audiences will thank you.

The Telephone Game

The telephone game is fun, especially as a kid or with kids. It’s the one where everyone sits in a circle and one person would pick a word or phrase then “pass it on” by whispering it to someone next to them. The fun was seeing how much the message changed … Continue reading

Does That Make Sense?

As a Program Leader and senior manager on our program development team, I love staying in touch with past participants and helping them continue to use the Decker tools they’ve learned in the ‘real world.’ Recently, we received the following question: I recently noticed that many speakers continually say to … Continue reading

The Vampire Effect: Do Your Messages Suck or Stick?

Have you ever seen a cool ad, but can’t recall what it’s actually for? You’re experiencing the Vampire Effect, a term coined after a study conducted by MediaAnalyzer Software & Research, which results concluded that attention-grabbing content—from sexy images to celebrity endorsements—was sucking attention away from what the ad was actually trying … Continue reading

Yada Yada Yada

There is so much focus on the importance of storytelling in business. From brand to leadership to managing client relationships, storytelling has become the “silver bullet” for how to approach something better. This post is not about when or why to tell a good story. Instead, I want to call … Continue reading

Tail That Wagged The Dog

“Why does a dog wags its tail? Because a dog is smarter than its tail. If the tail were smarter, it would wag the dog.” I remember in ’97, when the movie ‘Wag the Dog’ came out—it got me thinking about things or people that control things, who really shouldn’t. … Continue reading

Sorry, I’m Not Sorry

“I’m sorry, you go first.” “I’m sorry, I need to grab something.” “Sorry, can I scoot by you?” How often do you start a statement with a quick, “I’m sorry…”? This Pantene ad hits home how overused the phrase is – especially by women. In the opening of the ad, … Continue reading

The Big Short

A lot of times people ask, “What are the essential components of a speech?” They’re looking for the silver-bullet, the ideal length of time spent, the appropriate level of seriousness, how much humor, how many data points to include, etc. Often, we look to TED talks, popular speeches and commencement … Continue reading

I Don’t Need to Prep. I Can Wing It.

Does your calendar look like the above? Many do. Just yesterday I was talking with an executive about an upcoming meeting. A few minutes into the conversation, he realized, “Whoa. This is a way bigger deal than I thought.” This is a critical week for meetings, as we’re all squeezing … Continue reading

Rule of Three

The Three Musketeers. Sex, drugs and rock n roll. The Star Wars trilogy. Ever notice that throughout literature, pop culture and film, three is a magic number? Beyoncé and her R&B group Destiny’s Child know this well. They started as a quartet but only hit it big as a trio. … Continue reading