Clarifying your message

What are your key messages?

It may seem too obvious to consider what your key message or messages are. Often we start out with a clear vision and awareness of what we need to say to our audience. But often things become more complicated as you diversify or as other people come on board.

If you are an individual this is easier to control – although you may have different messages for several audiences. As an individual, you may not have a lot of opportunities to have a dialogue with someone else – which is often an excellent way to refine your message. If you have to describe it to someone then you have to be clear what it is.

This is a particularly challenging aspect when you are working with other people. Do you all have the same priorities? Does this matter? If you have a formal constitution or statement of intent or an agreed business plan then this kind of document can help you identify the key messages.

What can you do?

It is worth spending time on this aspect of your story – try producing a succinct description of what you are trying to do – like a soundbite. You could try to limit it to the length of a tweet – a 140 characters message on the social media site Twitter. Or try making a 2-minute pitch (as if you were in the Dragon’s Den). This kind of activity can really make you focus on the absolutely essential elements. Test out this summary on other people – does it tell them what you want to say. Sometimes we leave vital bits of information out because it is so obvious to us.

Remember that other people do not have your inside knowledge of your service, product or intention.

“Clear? Huh! Why a four-year-old child could understand this report! Run out and find me a four-year-old child, I can’t make head or tail of it.”
― Groucho Marx