The greatest challenge is stating the problem in a way that will allow a solution.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Include at least one of the three elements of A.I.R. in your message:

Make Your Message (Almost) as Vital as Air 

Do people stop listening before you stop talking? Being quotable is essential to attracting more options into your life. Without it you may be rich, smart, hardworking, and attractive yet you are likely to lose to the person who paints a more compelling picture.

To become the top-of-mind choice in your profession or market, make your message almost as vital as oxygen. It is deceptively simple. To be remembered and repeated, include at least one of the three elements of A.I.R. in your message:

1. Actionable

Motivate people to take some first action, however small, and they are more likely to take another.  Reduce the number of actions it takes for them to participate or to buy. To secure connection with your intended audience or market, aspire to offer the equivalent ease of Amazon Prime's one-click buying.

2. Interestingness

Make your message so unexpected, novel, provocative or otherwise odd that they are compelled to pay attention even if they are supposed to be doing something else.

"Love of the new," or neophilia, is hardwired into our brains at the deepest levels according to Winifred Gallagher, author of New who wrote that:

 "we are attuned to things that are new or unfamiliar because they convey vital information about potential threats and resources."

Interestingness is perhaps the most powerful cue for grabbing attentions when other messages are always fighting for our attention. 

Example:  piggybacking on the long-running advertising campaign for milk, some blood banks appealed for donations with the pithy call for action "Got blood?" (Being brief also helps these slogans be memorable.)

3. Relevance

When you hear a speaker who appears to be speaking directly to you, or you read about a situation that you are facing, you are much more likely to remember it. 

Playing on the familiar police order, "Step away from car" the clever headline, "Step Away From the Device" can be quickly understood, relevant — and actionable for many of us who spend too much time with our screens.

You can increase relevance by getting specific sooner.
That may mean you capture fewer people overall — but you will capture more of the right people, the people you need to reach.

A specific example proves the general conclusion, not the reverse. Yet most conversations, speeches and even advertising campaigns begin with generalizations.

By beginning with background, or qualifiers, as we instinctively do we are creating underbrush to obscure our point. 

Only the most optimistic will remain listening, thinking. "With all the manure in here, there's got to be a pony in here somewhere."

Look for the specific detail that can buttress your general conclusion, your main differentiating benefit, and start with it. 

Then build your story, point by point, like stepping stones across the pond, keeping your audience involved with you. 

Crafting a memorable message will make you more quotable, will keep you at the top of people's minds, and will ultimately inject your life with more opportunity and adventure.
More blog posts by Kare Anderson
More on: Communication

Kare Anderson

Kare Anderson is a co-founder of the Say it Better Center and author of Getting What You Want and Resolving Conflict Sooner. Previously, she was an Emmy-winning journalist for NBC and for the Wall Street Journal. Follow Kare on Twitter @kareanderson.

Make Your Message (Almost) as Vital as Air - Kare Anderson - Harvard Business Review