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Creating the Leadership Message

Now we're getting to the filling. What do you want people to remember? Is it fluffy and light? Chewy and rich? Nutty and scrumptious? You as the presenter need to make certain that your message is clear and unambiguous.

Here are some examples of leadership messages.

  • Our company is going to be number one in its market by this time next year.

  • We are a company that attributes its success to the contributions of its employees, so every employee will receive a bonus this year.

  • This new process will reduce time, improve quality, and costs.

  • Our expenses are exceeding our costs, so each of us will need to submit a revised budget reflecting a 10 percent decrease in expenditures by next Friday.

  • Our customer is concerned with health and well-being, and the best way we can accommodate these needs is to concentrate on making products that are fresh and flavorful and that contribute to a sense of well-being.

Each of these messages is short and to the point. There is no ambiguity. The intent is clear. That is what you want to strive for when you create your message. You can also regard such a statement as the thesis, or the why, of the message. It contains why you are speaking and what you will say. The greater the clarity of your message, the greater the chance that it will be remembered. How can you create your message? The methods are as varied as the shades of color in a rainbow.

  • Think first. You may wish to sit and think. Start with the obvious: What is it that I want to say, and what is it that I want the audience to remember when I leave the stage?

  • Ask somebody. Talk to a trusted colleague. Tell that colleague what you want to accomplish and begin a dialogue to exchange ideas.

  • Brainstorm. Gather a team together and start putting down ideas. What is it that we want to say, and how can we say it? Do not become overly complex or detailed. Remember, it's the message that you need first. Content comes later.

  • When it's over. By starting with the endpoint, you focus on the outcome, your audience. By working backward, you can derive what you want to say and how you want to say it.

A word of warning: Do not feel that the audience must like your message. For example, if you are a union steward and you want to describe what the union will request from management, chances are that the membership will listen and will like what you have to say. You are their representative, after all. By contrast, if you are in management and your task is to present the company's side of the issues, you can be certain that much of what you are saying will be met with skepticism.

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