Nothing is so simple that it can’t be misunderstood. Webster’s New World College Dictionary defines the word “articulate” as expressing oneself easily and clearly. It’s important that leaders articulate the company’s key initiatives (yearly objectives) in a way that employees can easily understand and relate to. The typical “corporate speak” doesn’t really connect with anyone, except maybe the ones who wrote it.
Below are three ways to make your key messages more powerful. Although the examples are not specifically related to “company initiatives” the principles still apply. This wisdom came from Olivia Mitchell of Effective Speaking:
1. Express it in spoken language – It’s easy to fall into the trap of writing your key messages in written language. But spoken and written language can be very different. You want your key messages to be instantly understood by your employees. That means it needs to be in spoken language. Here’s an example:
“The University can maximize the academic outcome of its clients through the leveraging of health facilities.” (A message in written language)
Here’s the same message in a spoken language format: “Students do better when they are well.” (This message is expressed more easily and clearly)
2. Make it specific – Vague key message do not stick. For example, if I were to say “Lending money is a good way of helping people”, it’s so vague and abstract that you’re unlikely to remember it. However, if I say “Lend $25 to a poor person so that they can start a business” there are several specifics that paint a picture for you. I’m asking you to do a specific action (lend $25) to a specific type of person (a poor person) so that they can do something specific (start a business). Specificity makes it memorable.
3. Ensure it’s relevant to your audience – Your key message should be crafted to suit the particular audience (employee group) that you’re targeting. Even though it’s the same topic, different audiences (employee groups) may require a different key message. For example a company that makes health products for farm animals has two distinct audiences: farmers and vets. For vets, a technical key message was effective; “This product uses a new mechanism to transmit the chemical under the skin.” The farmers weren’t interested in how the product worked. Here’s the key message that worked for them; “This product is the best value on the market for getting rid of parasites.”
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