Tuesday, December 19, 2017

How to Simplify Your Message & Persuade Others

Matt Eventoff has written a good concise article for Fast Company about how to put construct and deliver a simple and persuasive message.  He offers four suggestions:

1.   Know the audience.   How do they think?  What are their backgrounds?  What types of analysis do they find compelling?  What type of questions are they likely to ask?  What do they care about the most?  What are their goals and objectives?  You want to build a message to which they will be highly receptive.  Don't focus on the way you think; focus on how they think.   One key thing to consider - you may have people with very different backgrounds, interests, and perspectives in your audience. You won't be able to appeal equally to all parties.  You have to decide who your target audience is and tailor your message to them. 

2.   What is the ONE THING you want them to take away from your presentation?   You might have a lot of say, but it's not likely that they will remember it all.  What do you want them to recall moving forward?  Don't just consider what that one thing is... focus also on why that one thing really matters to them and to the organization.  Ask yourself:  Why should they care about this one thing?

3.  Give context and use examples.   You have to tell a story.  You can't just offer them a list of bullet points.  Paint a vivid picture for your audience.  Embed your points in a story about how and why you have a solution to an important problem facing the organization, or a plan to capitalize on a critical opportunity.  Think about the important elements of a story as you construct your message.  Who are the key characters?  What is the setting and the basic plot?  Where is the conflict or tension in your story?  How does the tension become resolved in the end?

4.  Watch your language.  Naturally, you want to avoid jargon and overly technical wording.  Moreover, you should be careful about nonverbal cues as well.  People watch your body language when you speak and present.  In particular, they watch your nonverbal cues as you answer their questions. Are you showing them that you are listening and trying to understand their concerns?  Are you demonstrating that you care about what others think? 

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