Keeping the Message Simple

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We often try to send too much information at one time.  We have a lot to say, so why not say it?  The issue is that saying too much at one time dilutes the real message, the important message.  Boil down what you have to say and make it compact.  Compact is memorable and memorable is what you need to get the message across.

Put Some Thought Into It

Simplifying a message is not easy, so don’t try to wing it when the time comes.  Give it a lot of thought and make sure that your message can’t be misinterpreted once it has been delivered.  I am not a fan of the long mission statements that are typical of most organizations.  The simple ones are the ones that create action.  General Electric had a good one; “We bring good things to life”.  Toyota is currently using “Moving Forward”.  But this doesn’t apply to just mission statements.  Think of your message and make it simple.

A Picture is Worth 1000 Words

Let’s just hope they are the right words.  Using pictures or symbols can be very useful, as long as they can’t be misunderstood.  The wrong symbol or a poor picture can jumble the message and leave it without definition instead of solidifying what you have to say.  If you can’t find the right picture, leave it out.  Don’t confuse the message.

Explain the Why

If I can understand why you want something done, it helps me to make decisions if you weren’t explicit about something with your message.  When delivering your message (a project goal, a team strategy, a company mission/vision) make sure that people understand why this is the message.  Don’t let people guess.

Make it Personal

We learn through stories.  Almost all religions teach through parable.  There is a reason – they are easy to remember and they connect.  Stories connect to people in ways that lessons do not.  We teach our children with fables (I bet you know the story of the grasshopper and the ant, and its lesson).  We learn our lessons from tall tales.  Give people a story to illustrate your message, even if it is made up.  Don’t lie, let them know it is fiction, but deliver your message in a story.

Repeat, Repeat, Repeat…

There are several ways to repeat a message: put it on a letterhead or at the end of an email, put signs up around the office, pepper it into a speech, use it as a reminder when things go off topic.  You don’t have to go around and be a broken record, but you need to give people reminders that the message is there.

Making a message simple is, in itself, not so simple.  It takes planning, thought, and a lot of work and repetition.  Have fun with the process.

How else can you keep your message simple?

What are some tag lines you can think of?

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