If your organization had the whole world’s attention for two minutes… what would you say? And more importantly, how would you say it?
We all have important messages to share with the world. And the sad truth is that just because something is super important, doesn’t mean that it will easily hold the attention of the people who matter. In other words, sometimes really important topics can be really hazardously boring.
Think about the last time you talked to someone about your work. Did their eyes glaze over as you slipped into industry specific jargon to describe your work? If this sounds familiar, we’re probably talking to you.
The good news is that there are simple ways we can adjust our messages so that they escape the boredom trap.
Center On Your Audience
People care about things that are relevant to them. In your messaging, don’t just focus on the what, focus on the how (it impacts your audience) and the why (it should matter to them). Creating an audience-centric message will keep their attention because their interest will be piqued by what’s in it for them.
Take a Step Back
As an expert at what you do, I’m sure you could rattle of the technical details of your topic for… a long time. And when it’s something you work on everyday, it can be hard to step in the shoes of someone who is hearing about it for the first time. You need to think carefully about how to distill the most important parts of your message to share with someone with no background knowledge. Try honing in on three main points you’d like your audience to understand about your topic. Sometimes, seeking advice from an outsider can be really helpful in hearing what kinds of language connects, and what goes in one ear and out the other.
Watch your Language
Think about the specific words you are using: are they in the average person’s vocabulary? If not, think about another way you can say the same thing in simpler terms. When people hear words they aren’t familiar with, they might think “this isn’t for me” and check out. Don’t scare your audience away with jargon; keep them invested with accessible language.
Even the driest, most technical topics can benefit from humor, surprises and levity to brighten the mood and keep attention. No matter your medium, you can tone set using language, sound, and visuals. People are more likely to listen if your message is fun rather than totally straightforward.
Don’t be Discouraged
It can be disheartening to think about how your work might be considered boring to a general public. This doesn’t mean you have an impossible task. Rather, you have a very much surmountable challenge ahead of you. And your audience will be better because of it! Your passion and knowledge is hugely valuable. It’s just a matter of translating that to a language folks can understand.
So let’s think back to the initial question: If you had the world’s attention, what would you say? How would you say it? This may be a thought experiment, but it’s not so far off from reality. With the prevalence of the internet, it’s easier and easier to reach massive audiences. And before you take advantage of this, you need to make sure you aren’t wasting your airtime. The more careful you are to frame your topic in an accessible, relevant, and exciting way, the more likely you are to make an impact.