Got a lot to say? How to simplify and clarify.


I’ve got too many things to say! Where do I start?

I’ve been coming across this a lot just recently with both clients and other connections. Whilst most people who want to stand up and speak (or have to) get that there needs to be something to say – a clear message – getting to that point where that message is clear, concise and compelling-  is much much harder in practice.

Of course, it’s a great problem to have. If you have some thing that is value for others to hear and if what you say can make a difference and have an impact, surely that’s not a bad thing?

But what if you only have 15 minutes? Or less? What if you have the choice of what to say and don’t know where to start?

For example I have been speaking with someone recently who is going to apply to speak at a TEDx event. It’s his choice of topic, his length of speech (within the 18 minute guideline given by TEDx) so what will he choose? And in another conversation with a client, she has been given carte blanche about what to speak about at a ladies lunch so long as they find it useful and its relevant to business! And a potential client thinks they have three different key note presentations they could give depending on the audience.

I realise that this isn’t always the case: there are the audit reviews, the progress reports, the ‘state of the nation’ addresses where timing and content are more clearly defined. But even here, what are the core messages? What’s the take away message you want people to be able to remember and recall later?

One of the discussions I have quite frequently is check that the range of  possible messages aren’t in fact just one. It’s really easy to list lots of key, vitally important messages only to find that when you take a step back they are all really part of the same. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Is there a connection between all these ideas?
  • Is there an exception in these ideas and why does it stand out from the others? (this in itself can connect (see above))
  • Can I cluster some of these messages together to create a theme?
  • Could I enforce a connection or introduce another element that makes sense of all the others?

For example one client thought she had three stories to tell and therefore three core messages. One was her personal story of achievement against the odds. (stick with it!) Another was her belief that opportunities are there to be grasped and used.(go for it!) And finally she was working on providing specific and specialist learning and development support for CEO’s.( you are not alone). Many of these ideas are overlapping and interweaving. As well as an option to develop all three presentations delving down deep into the detail, she could also step back and link all three together with the unifying theme of ‘you are in charge of your own destiny’ perhaps. Or ‘persistence’ or even ‘leadership.’ Or ‘woman in business’.

Naturally, the guidance to this shaping of a message is driven by who you are talking to and why. This is always the starting point.

Usually, when we are passionate about a topic, when there is the urge to get that message out there, then there is a theme, a connection a link. If you want to deliver a powerful core message, then first step back and look for the connection. Widen your view before you delve into the detail.

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