What makes a good message?

When you take part in a media interview or give a presentation, it should be to get across a message, whether it’s about your new product, research, or to talk about a specific event (good or bad), but it has to be carried out to achieve something, otherwise what’s the point? You are there to; speak to your stakeholders, win clients, impress shareholders or push your agenda and even if you are just providing comment on an event, your underlying message ought to be ‘we are experts in this field’ so you should listen to/do business with us.

However, it’s no good deciding to go into an interview or presentation hoping to communicate an idea, unless you can support it with evidence and include a call to action. For example; saying ‘we are customer focussed’ is not really a message; in fact it’s a rather overused statement that most people who hear it will think is ‘just one of those things that companies say’.

What can you do to turn this into a real message? Firstly, ask yourselves if this is really what you want to communicate to your audience – if not then you need to work out what is. Secondly, it’s a phrase you hear a lot, so it has to be given some support; are there statistics, anecdotes or other pieces of evidence (e.g. 75% of our business is repeat customers) you can provide to prove this isn’t just another piece of marketing speak? Thirdly; ‘so what?’ You need a call to action, otherwise what do you want your audience to do with this message or idea (e.g. you want people to believe that you’re worth doing business with because the care and attention you give customers is superior to your competition).

Having a set of strong messages will also give you ‘safe territory’ to retreat to if you come under pressure in an interview or presentation. Then, if you lose your way, or find yourself being drawn into areas you don’t want to discuss, you know that you can get back to your messages and they will be compelling enough to pull the agenda back into your control.

One thing to keep in mind (particularly for a media interview); we are at the stage now where the word ‘message’ brings up too many reminders of bad political interviewees and slippery spin doctors, so we don’t advise using this word in an actual interview. Try using language like; ‘our ideas’ or ‘the main issue for us’. Also; the word is a little too much like PR jargon and it’s best to steer clear of ‘company speak’ when engaging with external audiences.

So how do you successfully deliver these messages? That’s where our media training and presentation training courses come in, but once you’ve put together three strong ideas, each with evidence and a call to action, that’s going to be a lot easier.

Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – February 2012

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