Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Willy's Green Kangaroo's Unusually Silly - Your Messenger for Message Development

Successful message development, like most elements of giving presentations, is an art form. However, if you are looking for a powerful formula to inch you closer to developing an effective message, this post is your guide.

A. Remember this phrase:

Willy's Green Kangaroo's Unusually Silly

Use this phrase as your association trigger to remember the five elements of message development. Memorize the phrase and you will have a better chance of remembering them.

B. There are five basic goals of every effective message and messenger. You want your audience to do these five things with your message...

1. Want it
2. Get it
3. Keep it
4. Use it
5. Share it

C. What do each of these mean? What action are you trying to get your audience to take for each element?

1. Want it - Anticipation. This first elements's action depends entirely on the venue. The message anticipation of a blockbuster movie is easier to create than a conference workshop. However, there are ways to create a strong "I want it".

2. Get it - Motion. Element number two is all about moving your audience from point A to point B. The points are up to you, but the motion is up to both you and the audience. What do you want them to learn, understand, experience, etc.? What do you want them to get?

3. Keep it - Retention. It is difficult to imagine a messenger who doesn't want their audience to remember at least a portion of their message. Rememberability is a function of message structure and delivery and is a fun challenge to work.

4. Use it - Application. Many messengers will never know whether or not their words turned into application. However, every great messenger is either an optimist at heart. They truly believe their message will be heard and applied. And it is this almost naive belief that fuels many of the powerful intangibles of great communicators.

5. Share it - Participation. This is different from application as it involves an audience member telling someone else about the great message they heard. This final element is how great messages become viral as the sharing then creates anticipation in others and continues the cycle.

D. What creates these actions? Each element must contain these simple, but powerful qualities to produce the desired effect...

1. Want it - Anticipation - Desirable
2. Get it - Motion - Understandable
3. Keep it - Retention - Memorable
4. Use it - Application - Tangible
5. Share it - Participation - Remarkable

E. How do you get to desirable, understandable, memorable, tangible, and remarkable? Again, this depends entirely on your specific message and your goals as a messenger. However, here are a few starter thoughts. (NOTICE - there are literally thousands of ways to apply Willy's Green Kangaroo's Unusually Silly.)

1. Want it - Anticipation - Desirable

Attach a reward relevant to their life and desires. If the reward is a tangible item, it can't be something you would want (unless your demographic profile matches your audience). It must be something they will organically want. You also can't produce a desire in them for this element to work. I.e. - "four audience members will win a copy of my book" will not work. They don't even know what your book is all about. It must be a reward that has built-in desirability like an iPod, cash, etc.

For some great ideas for "Desirable" wording, click here.

2. Get it - Motion - Understandable

Use common language. Avoid using jargon, random acronyms, or "big words just to impress." When you keep the words simple, the audience can use their brain power thinking about how they are going to apply your message.

3. Keep it - Retention - Memorable

Repetition is the key. Repetition is the key. Repetition is the ________.

4. Use it - Application - Tangible

We need to make our messages very tangible for audience members, especially in today's busy, noisy and information-rich environments. Give them examples, space to ask questions, paper and writing tools to take notes, and ask specific questions that makes them put thought into how/where/when/why they will apply the message.

5. Share it - Participation - Remarkable

If you are a fan of Chip and Dan Heath's ground-breaking book, Made to Stick, or of Seth Godin's work, you will recognize this point. If your audience is going to share your message with others, it must be remarkable. Meaning it must be something worth remarking about. There are an unlimited number of creative ways to accomplish this. I suggest you do something unexpected. Get them out of their comfort zone. Now, in order for this technique to not leave the wrong taste in their mouth, you have to make a strong connection between the tool and the message. I.e. - throwing a bucket of water on an audience member might be unexpected, but unless your point is so emotionally or intellectually strong as to validate this action, your message will be remarked about, but for all the wrong reasons!

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