Seven criteria for crafting compelling messages
Communication…the single biggest problem is the illusion that it has taken place. Bernard Shaw
There is much wisdom in this Shavian witicism. People process information differently based on their personal beliefs, values, attitudes and experiences, so you can’t assume that your message has been interpreted as you intended. Use these seven criteria to help ensure your message resonates with the intended audience.
- Have a purpose
- Begin with the end in mind by asking “what is the desired outcome of this message? Is it to inform? educate? persuade? engage? inspire? advocate? change behaviour?”
- A message delivered with intention will help you communicate your desired outcome without ambiguity.
- Know your audience
- What is their common language?
- What are their values?
- What do they know about the topic?
- What don’t they know about the topic?
- What are their present attitudes towards the topic?
- What is the level of impact of the topic on the audience?
- What are their aspirations in relation to the topic?
- What are their core needs? For example, certainty (such as safety, comfort), uncertainty (such as adventure) significance, love, belonging, contribution, growth.
- Own a position
- What is the central point of the message?
- What is the key point of value or benefit for the audience?
- How does the message distinguish you in relation to your competitors?
- Keep it simple
- A message is more likely to connect with the audience if it is simple. Avoid using unnecessary technical jargon, acronyms and multisyllabic words when there is a simple alternative that conveys the same meaning.
- Be congruent
- Behave in alignment with your message.
- When delivering your message in front of people, there should be congruence between verbal and non-verbal communication. This means that the words chosen, the tonality used and body language need to be in sync to impart the desired meaning.
- Be creative
- Use the rule of three – The rule of three is based on the idea that three is the optimum number of points to form a pattern of information to aid memory retention. Some well-known examples are:
“Friends, Romans, countrymen”.
“The good, the bad and the ugly”.
“Blood, sweat and tears”.
- Frame it up – Frame the message so it is resonates with the audience.
Values frame – frame an idea by attaching it to a pre-existing idea, value, belief or world view.
Purpose frame – frame an idea in the context of a purpose, for example, by drawing a connection between an action and a result or achieving a particular outcome.
Positive frame – frame an idea using positive language, for example, stating the desired response exactly as you want it.
‘What if’ frame – frame an idea in the context of the future, for example, ‘Imagine what could happen if you took this action’.
Middling frame – frame an idea in the context of a spectrum of choices, with the middle choice being the desired, feasible option.
- Appeal to the senses – Our sensory preferences influence our preferred language type. Visually-oriented people will use words associated with seeing, auditory-oriented people will use words associated with hearing and kinaesthetically-oriented people will use words associated with touch. Therefore, choose words that appeal to the different sensory modalities.
- Be consistent
- Apply your message consistently across all platforms and touchpoints.
©Ros Weadman 2017 Ros Weadman is the creator of the Reputation Equation™, founder of Melbourne PR & Marketing Group and author of BRANDcode®, a marketing guide for small business. Connect with Ros on LinkedIn or via www.rosweadman.com