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The 10 best strategic business slides of all time: #5 — Message Development


In the fifth post in this series, Nigel Malone shares the contents of another of his favourite business keynote slides, drawn from a cross-section of sources that includes some of the great business, brand and military planners of all time.

Also in this series:

Favourite Slides #5: Message development

nigel malone, business strategy, message development, anthill

As a strategist and writer working with startups or businesses finding their feet, the conversation often turns to the client saying, “I really want to have one sentence that sums up who we are and what we do…” Also known as the ‘elevator pitch’, this succinct and compelling summary of ‘what you do’ appears to be a rare commodity.

The client closely follows this with “… but I am not a writer… that’s why we need you”, and looks at me as if I possess some magic writing potion. Given the written language is core to western culture, it is puzzling how writing is often feared more than a night out in Transylvania. It needn’t be.

There’s one particular writing tool I share with all my clients to help them overcome any fears they may have about writing. It works equally well for the elevator pitch, as it does a speech, paragraph or page of text. It can dramatically help the persuasiveness of your communication.

The tool is called “Knowing, Feeling, Doing” and it came to me via Sam H. Ham, Professor of Environmental Communication and International Conservation at the University of Idaho. Ham’s research taught me that effective communication is not about organising facts for maximum recall, it is about ‘meaning–making’.

Here’s how it works: every communication or message you wish to create should have three essential components. They can be used in any order or permutation, as long as you address each one. Start by addressing each one individually and then mesh them together.

Knowing – what we want our audience to know or learn
Feeling – what do we want our audience to feel
Doing ­– what do we want our audience to do, your call to action

For example, James Tuckerman steps into an elevator at Sydney Technology Park and recognises an old school friend (and potential prospect)…

“So what are you doing with yourself these days James?” says the old friend.

James replies…

[Knowing]  “Well my passion lies in innovation and entrepreneurship.
At the moment I am building a community of proactive business builders – called Anthill.”

[Feeling]    “We keep our audience feeling informed, ahead of the curve, entertained and connected to their peers.”

[Doing]      “Hop online and take a look: anthillonline.com.”

Note: If James knew he was talking to a potential advertiser, he may have added something about the community being ‘quantified and qualified’, as this would be something an advertiser should know about Anthill.

So perhaps it’s up to James to tell us how we went with the first draft on his elevator pitch… but as a structural tool, the knowing, feeling, doing approach ensures you have all the right ingredients to play with in crafting your message. Once you have these in place, it’s a bit like polishing a rough diamond, or as Hemingway said “writing is re–writing” — keep crafting it until it’s perfect.

Nigel Malone is a freelance brand strategist and writer, with particular expertise in the fields of tourism, finance, technology, sustainability and social change. Connect with him on Linkedinhttp://au.linkedin.com/in/nigelmalone