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Uncovering the Meaning of the Message

The message is the most important part of the presentation or the one-to-one chat. It is the core upon which the entire presentation or conversation depends. Think of the message as the 30-second "take-away thought" that you want people to remember. The message is not the same as the content of the presentation or conversation; it is the reason for the speaking. If you will indulge a simple analogy, consider the presentation or conversation as a piece of chocolate candy. The content is the chocolate surrounding the creamy center. The creamy center (or the cherry, if you prefer) is the message—the heart of what you are saying.

What are you trying to do? Why are you speaking to this group or this individual? Do you wish to explain a hot topic? Do you need to sell them on a new process? Do you wish to impart a need for change? Or do you just want them to have some laughs? Each of these purposes is valid. Your challenge as a leader is to decide what you want to do, and do it.

If you work for an organization of any size, you quickly become accustomed to presentations. Politicians make them. Celebrities make them. Entertainers make their living off them. The most successful leaders are those whose message you can sum up quickly in a sentence or so.

  • We know where we are headed and why.

  • We are an organization that puts people first.

  • We must change the way we do business.

That sentiment is the beginning of the message. It is not the message itself; rather, it is the flavor of the message. Returning to our chocolate analogy, it is the difference between raspberry and orange fillings, or between strawberry and vanilla. All of these fillings may be creamy, but the flavor varies. As a rule of thumb, the more precise and concise you are about your message, the more precise and concise your presentation will be.


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