Thursday, March 27, 2014

What a Young Mom Can Teach You About Messaging

By Amy Fond / Cameron Communications Inc.

Have you ever tried to dress a kangaroo? Probably not – but I can tell you getting a 3- year-old out the door daily must be similar. I have three kangaroos to dress, 3 year old twins and a 4 year old. Every morning since September, as we get ready for nursery school, I shout, “Get your shoes on” a dozen times and typically no one listens. Until last week.

Instead of begging my kids to pay attention, I decided to use language that forced them to pay attention.  Changing “Get your shoes on” to “Who here knows why getting your shoes on will get you a Hershey kiss?” I hit upon what they really cared about, forced them to think about it, and then act.

With toddlers, chocolate does the trick. But in Media Training, it’s more of a verbal promise – if you pay attention you’ll get something useful that will directly affect you. Before you give your next presentation or interview, ask yourself first, what will the audience really care about?

The truth, is people truly care about what affects them. Local news stations know this. They won’t run lengthy international stories, but they will tell you every six minutes about your weather. They know they’ll keep audiences glued if viewers expect every six minutes there will be a story that directly impacts their lives.
Listen closely the next time you hear an advertisement trying to get you to watch the nightly news. They won’t say “Up next at 11, a story about dentists.” They know America isn’t racing to the TV to catch that.  Instead they’ll say, “Coming up at 11, the 3 questions you need to be asking your dentist before your next visit.” Suddenly, if you don’t pay attention you’re missing something important.

Phrases like “What you need to know” and  “Why you should be doing x, y, and z” help signal that your message will be of use to the listener. A short list is also a great way to get people to pay attention.  You, the expert, have culled through the nonsense to give  “The top three things” the listener needs to do.

The next time you want your audience to pay attention, position your message so the audience wants to listen. It’s the equivalent of a Hershey Kiss bribe. If you listen, there will be something good you’ll get in the end. 


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