The messaging of an idea...


It seems that lately I've been involved with optimizing how to present, developing a successful pitch, how to get a complicated message across to an audience, how to catch people's attention, and ultimately get someone to listen to an idea. Slides and discussions, discussions and slides — more slides, and definitely more discussion...

Maybe by the end of all this, it'll turn out to be as much a catharsis for me as any insight into the art and science of optimizing a message, but let's see where this takes us before we make a decision on that. I might as well start here —

About a week ago I happened to mention to an associate that I was working with a small team to build out a pitch for an idea that we wanted to put in front of some potential investors — as part of this mention I happened to add we were on draft 24 of the presentation when we had to make the "pitch". To that there was a look of surprise (along with a smidge of shock) regarding the number of iterations we had worked through, and this became the tipping point into a rather long conversation about optimizing a message — particularly if it was something as nebulous as an idea. Below are some of the considerations that ebbed and flowed throughout our conversation: 

  • Why is a simplified message important? 
  • What constitutes a complicated message? 
  • What is the best vehicle for presenting a message? 
  • Do you know your audience? 
  • How do you boil down the message without losing meaning?
  • Et cetera, et cetera.

And then we simply ran out of time and had to stop our conversation — something to be picked up at a later date no doubt. There was also no doubt this is a meaty topic — and frankly a very important one.

As this catharsis builds momentum it's very clear that this is bigger than one blog post, and although I have some insights in this area, there are others who have greater skill with messaging an idea — and more importantly, getting buy-in and moving it forward. My hope here is to engage those who are really good at it, expand the discussion, and make us a little better tomorrow than we are today. 

Since I was the one who started this, I'll put a stake in the ground and say I approach messaging any idea (or proposed plan) using these guiding principles when figuratively putting pen to paper —

No one cares about your idea. It is your job to make them care.

Complicated gets confusing and people lose interest when it's confusing.

It is important you know your audience and what's important to them.

Less is more

Don't pitch a solution looking for a problem

For right or wrong, this frames up my thinking process and the approach I use when messaging any idea — and I suppose, encourage me to write more in short order. To be continued...

And hopefully, just maybe, I'll get a little help from my friends,