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Oh, what's the flippin' point?

Oh, what's the flippin' point?

Nicola Hopes

14 November 2023

I'm not a comms expert - despite how much I have to say!

But I do like to think I can make a point... and make it clear... (and if you're now singing 'You're the Voice' by John Farnham, you've given your age away).

But we might not be landing the points we need to. Let me expand.

My husband had the pleasure of attending a charity conference last week and got to hear some sporting greats share their stories. He heard the likes of Sir Mo Farah CBE, Mat Dawson MBE, Phil Tufnell and ex-Lioness, now pundit, Fara Williams – to name a few.

They all had fascinating stories. They all had fun anecdotes. But not everyone had a point.

There seemed to be a marked difference between the folk who had just decided to turn up and chat and those who’d thought about the message they wanted to deliver.

And given that the audience payback for the ticket price was inspiration and motivation – a message (of some sort) was expected. Alongside some decent fizz, of course!

Message in a bottle

So, as he was sharing his highlights (and lowlights) of the day – I will divulge no names – it reminded me of many coaching conversations I’ve had.

I hear things like:

• ‘They just haven’t got that we need to…’
• ‘I don’t know why they’re not more excited about…’
• ‘Why don’t they understand this is a priority…?’

To which my response is often annoyingly direct.

‘Have you considered that you might be the problem, not them?
You probably haven’t really told them.
Or told them in the right way.’

This is met with a blinking stare of dawning realisation that what they think they’ve said isn’t what they’ve actually said. Therefore, the message they’ve tried to convey just hasn’t landed.

And it’s easy to see why. We live in a hybrid world of meeting rooms, video calls and no space to think. You drift from one meeting to the next without considering the message you want this group to hear or how you want them to feel afterwards.

So, the message will end up being what your brain choses to serve up in the moment and the delivery method will be your default style. Now you know, dear reader, that I think you’re marvellous. However, I question your ability to land every message perfectly after 3 minutes of head scratching while grabbing a coffee on the way.

What happens next?

Well, that’s up to you.

• How badly do you need them to either understand it, get excited about it or prioritise it?
• If the answer is ‘I need that badly!’ then you might want to do it differently.

Stop for a minute – you may just need to make the space to plan the message. And if it’s a big enough deal, you’ll make the time! Don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating 20 pages of PowerPoint. But you have to get clear on what they need to hear and what you want them to do with it.

Call in the cavalry – as disclosed at the start, I’m not a comms expert. But I bet you know one. I’m certain that knocking about in your organisation or via your LinkedIn network you have people who get paid good money to craft wonderful messages. Repeat after me: Ask. The. Expert.

Practice makes perfect – rehearse it. Record it. Revise it. Rehearse it again.

So, next time you hear yourself saying ‘they just don’t get it’ have a think about what you’ve said and how you’ve said it. Chances are you just haven’t made the point. And you know how to fix now, right?

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