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

Presenting With Your Hands Tied

Do you ever feel like there are so many people weighing in on your slides and talking points that you’re actually presenting with your hands tied? I recently worked with a client who was asked to present to the board of its Fortune 30 company. In preparation for his presentation, … Continue reading

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Speaking On A Panel: 3 Tips

So, you’ve been asked to speak on a panel—what now? Whether you like to prepare a lot (or not at all), here are three things to think about that will help ensure success at your next panel. When you’re on a panel, it should feel like a casual conversation between you … Continue reading

Pope Francis On Humility

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High Stakes Q&A: Try These Tips

Even if you’ve been avoiding the news at all costs, you probably heard that one of the most high-stakes, public Q&A sessions of the year happened last week. An estimated 19.5 million people watched it on network television, and that doesn’t count those who live-streamed it from their desks, since … Continue reading

Less Can Be More

A few weeks ago, this video stood out to me because of Cameron Smith’s reaction to he and Jonas Blixt’s win at the 2017 Zurich Classic. He said nothing—yet he said so much. It’s the power of raw emotion. It’s amazing how many leaders we work with who put up … Continue reading

Iron Sharpens Iron

News flash! Ignorance is not bliss. It’s amazing how many companies, organizations and teams there are these days that don’t give each other feedback. Feedback is critical to being a better communicator. Too often, leaders don’t take the time to ask for feedback and they never get better. But iron … Continue reading

Team in Training — for Communication

I’m guilty of waiting to floss until the day before my dentist appointment. Last minute rush to fix what needs to be fixed. I’ve spent the last few weeks at different company kickoffs, product rollouts and industry conferences to do a quick “floss” before they go live. But as my … Continue reading