Messaging: how to give your words real impact

Imagine you are giving a television or radio interview. It lasts about four minutes. But the average sound bite on television is about 8 seconds. Your challenge is to make sure the 8 second clip that gets broadcast is the strongest, most credible exposition of your message you are capable of delivering.

The first stage in being able to deliver a clear, effective message to an audience is being comfortable expressing it to yourself, in the fewest words possible. Don’t try to deliver too much information at once. Of the many facets of your work, which aspect are you most anxious to speak about? If you had to encapsulate your message in one sentence, what would that sentence be?

Focus your messaging. Define, in as few words as possible, the one big thought you want to place in the minds of your audience. Write it in a single sentence.

Tighten your message. Look at the sentence you wrote. Can you shorten it? The most effective messages are built around simple words in simple sentences. Try to express the heart of your message in 25 words or less.

Examine your sentence once more. Speak it out loud. Can you ‘hear’ every word coming naturally out of your mouth? Effective messaging requires language that is simple and conversational. It makes the message easier for you to deliver. And it makes the message easier for the audience to remember.

Change jargon and formal language into something more conversational. Imagine you were talking to a friend. Put ‘Hi Mum’ in front of your words and read the sentence out loud. If the sentence you wrote doesn’t sound conversational and authentic, change it.

How does your message look now? Tighter? Brighter? Easier to deliver? Good. That means it’s probably going to have more impact on the audience.