3 Rules for Effective Messaging

1. Stop while you’re ahead

Do you want people to remember what you tell them? Then don’t tell them too much. We live in a society with a very short attention span. As you develop key messages, choose your top three points and save the rest for your white paper or e-book. Seriously, how many points could you remember if someone started sharing an avalanche of information? Studies tell us three is a safe number.

2. Solve a problem

People are fond of learning how you can help them. Don’t tell people about your product or service; rather, explain clearly and succinctly how you’ll solve their problem.

I could say, “Blah, blah, blah…I’m a communication coach and I help people develop communication plans and better communication skills. Blah, blah, blah.” Or I could say, “You know that guy who interrupts every meeting? The one who also talks behind everyone’s back? I can help you create a culture where he shapes up or chooses to leave the organization.”

3. Emotions rule

People make decisions based on emotion. Facts and figures are great (and they should support your messages), but plucking people’s heart strings tends to get a response.

How many times have we all vowed to eat better and exercise more? Several hundred well-researched books clearly illustrate the scientific basis for improving health with these two actions, but until we understand our emotional relationship with food and exercise and body image, it’s tough to make a change.

So that’s it. Three simple tips. Although it’s tempting to include more then three key messages: resist. And I know it’s easier to talk all about what you offer rather than what others need, but it’s not nearly as effective. Finally, if you can only remember one key point from this blog, remember this: it is your heart and not your head that usually wins the wrestling match when it comes to influencing your decisions.

Jendi Coursey is a communication strategist based in Northern California.