It doesn’t matter if you’re a preacher, public servant or the student body president, every communicator communicates with one purpose – to be heard. More than that, to leave an impact, to encourage thought, personal growth or provoke some sort of action. I’ve never met a pastor, storyteller or community leader who hopes no one will hear them when they get up to speak. However, given the perceived preparation on the listeners’ part, some may draw that conclusion for themselves.
If you’re a pastor or teacher in a local church, you have been given about 1 hour each week (with only about 30-40min devoted to speaking) during your worship experience to counter the 167 hours worth of content and messaging your listeners are submitted to each week.
It seems like an impossible battle, but it’s one we believe we are called to.
So understanding what we’re up against, what does it take for a message, thought or call to action to be memorable – to make a difference? I believe there are four key components to every message. These keys need to be woven through the entire delivery in order for it to be memorable among your listeners.
The first key that makes your message memorable is you. Your story. Your experiences. Your valleys. Your victories. Your vulnerability. Your authenticity. More than that, your ability to draw meaning from your own journey to be able to share that with others.
We live in the information age – it’s available at the tip of your fingers with a simple Google search or Siri request. But information alone is forgettable; it’s a story that impacts someone’s heart. Your story.
Your credibility as a communicator isn’t found in your knowledge but in the hard journey of discovering that knowledge. And while most communicators feel the need to bury the journey, the hardships and the struggle to present the best version of themselves, it is that vulnerability and authenticity that inspires your audience to take notice and see themselves in your story.
They begin to say to themselves, “Well, if she can push through that…”
“If he was able to overcome that…”
“My situation isn’t that bad, maybe I can get through this.”
All of a sudden you’ve captured your audience’s attention and interest, which is the first step to being heard.Information alone is forgettable. It's a story that impacts someone’s heart. Click To Tweet
While information alone is forgettable – the information given in the right framework is necessary. And as in every good story, content is king.
As communicators, given the incredible privilege to stand in front of a room full of people, (who could be anywhere else, but for some reason has chosen to sit there and listen to you) we need to have something to say. Something that will not only inspire the audience but provide moments of insight, awareness and understanding.
This understanding, or “AHA” moment (as I like to describe them) leads the listener to build a new or add to an existing framework of knowledge. This knowledge begins to take shape in their minds, drawing on information they have previously received. They begin to see how it works together and then begin to draw up their own insights and conclusions.
Shared and inspired information is the only way to encourage interest. And without some level of interest, you won’t be able to move your listeners into ownership, which is the result of the next two keys
Like in any body of water, movement contributes to life and growth. Where there isn’t any movement, there is a lack of life.
Motivational speaking leads people to movement. It gives them the confidence to risk, to dare, to try something new or position themselves to experience something they’ve never experienced before. For any message to become memorable, it needs to become personal. This personal adoption of thought or message is what lodges the idea in the listener’s heart and mind. And while we want to captivate our audience and keep their interest throughout our presentation, our ultimate goal (especially for those who serve the local church) is to see interest grow into personal ownership.
This message transference is what leads to life.
At the foundation of every motivational message is this question, why?
Why does it matter?
Why should I care?
Why should I take the next step?
Why should I risk?
What we do and how we do it has very little impact if we don’t know why we are doing it.
Motivational messages capture the interest of their listeners through inspiration, build a framework of knowledge through information, but lead people to change by clearly communicating why it should matter to those listening.For any message to become memorable, it needs to become personal. Click To Tweet
The last key for any message to be memorable is a clear next step; the “so what” factor. It answers the question, “How does this impact me?” This is where you can introduce the what and how, but the key is to make it clear, concise and as simple as possible. Just because you’ve been able to move your listeners from interest into the beginning stages of ownership, they probably haven’t bought into the new idea as far to how to hunt down the next step for themselves
Experience shows that the highest level of interest and potential ownership of a listener is right after hearing the message. The longer you wait to provide a clear next step or application to why it should matter, the easier it is for the listener to drift and the message to become forgettable. This isn’t because your message didn’t connect with their heart, it’s because they are constantly bombarded with messages and our minds can only process and care for so much.
Thinking through a clear “so what” is critical for every communicator if you wish to communicate a memorable message. If you can’t articulate it as a speaker, then there isn’t a chance your listener will either. More than that, if you don’t know what the next step is for your listeners, you’re not prepared and your message isn’t worth hearing.
Motivational messages capture the interest of their listeners through inspiration, build a framework of knowledge through information, clearly communicate why it should matter through motivation and provide an applicable and clear next step. This allows the listener to begin the process of personal ownership which results in your message becoming not only memorable but life-changing.