Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Messaging… Looking In A Bottle Is Not The Best Approach!

Posted by: Linda Austin, Feb. 19, 2013

US Navy 110915-N-YU572-080 Electrician's Mate 2nd Class Jon Moore removes a message from a bottle sent from Kagoshima, Japan more than five years a As federal communicators during tough fiscal times, it is important to keep our strategic vision in focus. We need to support our Agencies by effectively communicating across our own organizations, with external customers and stakeholders. As part of our effort to communicate both externally and internally, let’s take a look at messaging. This entry is adapted from practices used by communicators at the National Ocean Service.

To form a strong presence within your organization and with your external audiences, it is important to have a system of messaging that is routinely used for communications. Picking a short tagline that quickly describes your organization can make a world of difference. One-liners that are compelling, punchy, and message-driven, get people’s attention. Everyone has to communicate in sound bites or you will have lost the audience, with readers moving on to the next website, blog post, or video. There’s no room for verbosity in today’s world.

The following three phrases will help you stay on message, improve your clarity, and grab the attention of others. Use them in meetings, blogs posts, emails, media interviews, and yes, they’ll even work in your personal life. They are simple, but brilliant.

1. The goal is…

When someone in the elevator asks, “What’s your new project about?” You respond: “The goal is…” Then follow with a maximum of one or two sentences. Choose your words carefully. Your goal is to get the other person curious to know more.

2. The purpose is…

Follow this expression with one line that describes the purpose of “whatever.” It should be direct, clear, and strong. There’s no room for stumbling or ending on a soft note. When using this tactic in a conversation, be confident and sprinkle in some humility and a smile.

3. The bottom line is…

Leave the sales pitch and fluff for someone else. This phrase is about cutting to the chase and respecting people’s time. It can almost be delivered like it’s on the down low; a prized secret that you’re sharing only with them. When speaking with this person, lower your voice, and speak slowly.

Allow the recipient of your message to feel as though they have been hand-picked to learn the crucial details of “whatever.” Even when writing an email or post that will be seen by multiple people, this phrase is powerful. It allows everyone to feel as if they are the only one on the receiving end. They are the chosen one.

As you put these expressions into practice, you’ll notice that your mind will slow down before you begin your follow-up line. When weaving these phrases into your communication, it cues your reader or listener that they need to pay attention; something important is coming that they simply can’t miss.

Here’s the bottom line:

We exist in a world of sound bites that leaves us little room for long winded and muddied communication. Clarity is a beautiful thing. As federal communicators wanting to keep a sharp edge, we should all give it a try!

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