You have to grab your audience’s attention rapidly – or they will tune you out in favor of something easier, and more appealing.
It’s the law, and you can’t change it. That’s right – it’s brain science. Don’t fight it. Work with it.
Now, actually, we do have a lot to say, right? But it’s all in the preparation and delivery. You wouldn’t dump a bunch of raw ingredients for a 3-course meal in front of your guests and cheerfully invite them to “dig in!”
So here’s a framework you can use to craft your messages. This is a universal formula – branding, advertising, training, presenting – you name it, the framework works. How to prepare your message-meal:
- First Course: The Gist
- Second Course: The Basic Overview/Outline
- Third Course: The Details
- The Accompanying Wine: Stories
This is the distilled essence of your message – the goal here is the get through the brain’s filtering mechanism (RAS – Reticular Activating System) by grabbing attention with something new, intriguing, and relevant. In seconds – not minutes.
For example: here’s the gist of my clarity message: In a noisy and distracting world, you cannot get heard unless your message is short, crystal-clear, and memorable. That’s it – everything I do with clarity flows from that simple, distilled principle, whether it’s a networking introduction or a full-day workshop or my book.
This is a brief set of clear, factual statements that provide the framework of your message. We’re not going into full depth here, we’re summarizing. Again, as an example, the list below is the overview of my clarity message:
- The human brain is overloaded and constantly has to filter for interest and relevance (brain science: reticular activating system).
- We have only a few moments to gain attention and make impact (turn the light on).
- There are 5 shortcuts to impact and memory: snippets, stories, statements, specifics, symbols.
- There is a universal formula for crafting effective communications (acronym: ARIA).
- Clarity wins, obscurity loses – in all facets of business (and life).
That’s the skeleton upon which everything else – consulting, workshops, the Clarity Wins book, etc. – is built. (Actually, except for point #4 (ARIA) – I developed that after the book was released).
This is the fuller description. We have to earn the right to get into details with people by winning their attention and piquing their interest. And that means distilling for relevance, and crafting brief, clear, powerful statements. “The Details” = your presentation, your course, your workshop, your white paper, your book.
Because the human brain craves stories, we need to weave brief, relevant narratives throughout our content. People can only process so much abstraction, and so many sterile bullet points. It’s the stories that bring the point home and make it memorable.
User stories. Origin stories. Success/Failure stories. Some of the most powerful illustrations we can employ, at every level, are relevant stories.
Here’s the thing: going through this exercise is not JUST to make a good sales pitch. This is how we put into words the entirety of what we’re about. Whether it’s on-boarding new employees, or creating mission statements, or crafting web pages, or building and eLearning course – knowing how to articulate your message in layers provides the GPS for all your strategic direction and messaging.
Do you want to succeed in gaining attention and getting mindspace? Distill. Layer. Storify. That will make you clear.