One of the biggest jobs for an executive leader is delivering messages. Not phone messages or interoffice memos, but real messages – the kind that can motivate a team, give direction to a fellow executive, or rebuild a fractured client relationship.
Whether we are speaking to an audience of one or one thousand, knowing how to deliver that message so that it has the desired effect is a critical leadership skill, especially right now. For example, organizations are losing talent and having a hard time attracting new talent because employees want to feel understood, connected and valued where they work. Yet many leaders have no idea how to speak in a way that accomplishes that.
Before COVID, economic upheaval, social unrest, the Great Resignation, and a potential world war, how a leader communicated was a sidebar; something that wasn’t really that important. In today’s climate, thoughtless and careless communication can cost an organization everything (and even make you internet famous in the worst of ways).
As a keynote speaker and executive coach, I’ve spent years working with my clients on how to best convey what they want to say in the most meaningful way possible. During that time, I’ve developed five questions that I ask as we work through this process. These questions are designed to take the focus off of what you want to say and put the focus on how your audience will best hear it.
5 Questions for Delivering Messages That Matter:
What is the core of your message?
Why does it matter to the person(s) you are delivering it to?
Where do they currently “live” on the core of your message?
Where do you want to take them on the core of your message?
How will their world be different after you deliver your message?
Let’s break these questions down.
1. What is the core of your message?
What is the single most important thing you want to convey? Boil it down into one sentence. Be as succinct and specific as you can. When we try to cram too many concepts into one message, we can lose our audience, leaving them confused and even frustrated.
2. Why does it matter to the person (s) you are delivering it to?
Why it matters to you isn’t nearly as important as why it matters to them. How is your message relevant to them? What will it do for them? What is their reason for caring about what you say? Seeing your message through their eyes will allow you to craft it with them in mind.
3. Where do they currently “live” on the core of your message?
What does their current reality look like on this? What do they currently believe is true about this? How do they currently feel about this? Understanding where they are right now will help you map out how to get them where you want them to go (see below).
4. Where do you want to take them on the core of your message?
Messages the matter move a person from Point A to Point B. In question 3, you’ve determined where Point A is. Now it’s time to decide on a specific Point B. Do you want to take them from thinking/feeling one way about something to thinking/feeling another way? Do you want to take them from doing their job one way to doing their job in another way? Do you want to take them from viewing your organization one way to viewing your organization another way?
5. How will their world be different as a result of your message?
Will their life be easier? Harder? Will they see their job differently? Will they see you differently? Will they feel happier? Sadder? Understanding the “change” that will occur because of your message allows you to infuse your message with empathy.
I know. This sounds like a lot of work. Guess what? Being a successful leader right now IS a lot of work. However, there is a silver lining. Working with these questions over and over again builds a kind of muscle memory in our brains. You’ll work through them faster every time and eventually, they will be become automatic.
The payoff? The people you talk with will feel that you “get” them and this kind of understanding builds connection and trust - things that are in short supply these days.
I challenge you to give this framework a try the next time you have an important message to deliver. If you need help, just click on the “Book a Call” button above to schedule a complimentary session with me.