The following article is an abbreviated version of chapter one of my upcoming book. Look for announcements in the coming weeks on my website, newsletter and social media on how you can pick up your copy when it is released this summer!
Crafting a Simple Message: If You Lose Them, You Can’t Persuade Them
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“If you can’t explain something simply, you don’t know enough about it.”
– Albert Einstein
Whether conveying policy prescriptions, business concepts, features for a sales item, or whatever it is you need to pull people along, your audience will never jump on board if they don’t understand your message. Almost all effective, persuasive messaging has one core component: simplicity.
Today’s audiences are constantly being bombarded with information and have extremely short attention spans. If you are unable to quickly and clearly convey your core message, you will lose audience members, customers, and money. Your audience will never jump on board if they don’t understand your message.
Most people don’t read; they scan. And they stylistically gravitate toward devices like bullet points that have simple content and lots of white space.
You know the issue at its deepest and most complex level. You probably know every intricacy. And you should. But when it comes to persuading others,
- Debrief yourself.
I find the various aspects of my message bounce around my head like a ping-pong ball. I see all the dimensions, curves, angles, various components, etc. The only way forward is to get everything out of my head.
How do you get the messaging concepts out of your head? Here are a few tips to try:
- Write everything on a whiteboard
- Sit with a friend, say it all, record it
- Use the dictation app on your phone
- Type into a doc
- Take a pad of paper and start writing
- Decide what problem your product or service solves.
Every human being has three areas of concern: money, relationships, and health.
If you want them to care, show them how what you are offering will solve a real problem they face.
People will pay attention if you are solving a real problem for them. Can you – in one succinct sentence – explain the problem you solve?
- Find out what is crucial. Strike everything else.
“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so the necessary may speak.”
Hoffman said it better than I can, but it’s worth reiterating. Be clear. Be succinct.
Figure out what your readers need to know and get rid what they don’t. If they’re interested in your message, they may want more information later. That’s great. You can always provide more once you have a captive audience.
- Remove all internal (or generally unknown) jargon.
We often communicate with insider language that isolates others. It often makes us feel smart and in the inner circle to use these internal terms. But anytime there’s an inner circle, there are people left on the outside.
Be sure that you don’t unnecessarily alienate the people you are actually trying to persuade. If the internal jargon isn’t necessary, strike it. If there are acronyms, state the meaning with the acronym the first time you use it. Then, only refer to the acronym if that seems best.
I hope you found this excerpt enlightening! I will go more in depth on all of these points in my book. Right now I’m practicing what I preach and keeping it short and sweet. Thanks for reading.