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.

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