5 RULES OF GREAT COMMUNICATIONS

KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE: David A. Fields calls it "right-side up thinking" -- it's not about you, it's about them. Your audience has expectations about what they want to receive from you in your communication. Your messages should be conveyed in clear language your audience understands, with references they know, and ideally using words and images in a tone that motivates them.

THE MOST QUOTABLE PEOPLE ALWAYS GET QUOTED: Whether you are being interviewed, speaking on a panel, giving a talk, or writing a memo or op-ed, people (especially journalists) will remember and quote good lines and "zingers" and return to you for more. I call them "money lines." They cleverly sum things up or give an acute perspective using metaphors, comparisons, irony, humor, or a very short anecdote. Always have a few ready in advance of every speaking or interview occasion if you want to stand out. (See this example in the second paragraph I ghost-wrote for my client).

USE A STORY OR ANECDOTE TO HIT HOME: Readers and listeners gravitate towards well-told examples and sketches. While reciting numbers can be powerful, and statements and theories can make good points, they land far more memorably when accompanied by short personal anecdotes, true stories, or hypothetical cases. Audiences identify with stories better than with numbers.

PICTURE THE HEADLINE FIRST: To give your communication a focal point, imagine what a realistic headline about it could look like first. Create several headline drafts and tinker with the words until it says exactly what you want it to say and can not be misinterpreted. Your message should support the headline and not go too far astray.

SAY THE MOST IN THE LEAST AMOUNT OF WORDS: You've got to fight to get people's attention while respecting their valuable time. The solution? Chop, condense, and edit until you've packed the most amount of meaning in the least amount of words. Change as much as possible to the active voice. Make every word count with substance and variety. This exercise lends itself to making language sing and resonate for your readers and listeners. 

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