One Paradigm-shifting Idea That Will Change the Way You Communicate

It’s something professional speakers do. It’s something the best storytellers and broadcasters do. It’s something your favorite bloggers and writers do, too.

One Photo
Photo credit: Andre Chinn (Creative Commons)

But for some reason, I was neglecting it. I thought I was better than it, that I was somehow above the system. I was believing a lie.

The phrase that changed my mind

Earlier this week on a webinar, I heard Derek Halpern say this:

Stop writing lists. Write one tip that helps you get one result. (Click here to tweet that.)

Of course, this applies to more than tips and tricks. It applies to ideas and stories, too. We communicators need to stop cluttering our messages with too many inane details.

Sure, a blog post with “101 ideas about X” is catchy, but is it memorable? You may get people saying, “I’ll bookmark that!” but are they going back to read it? Or are they forgetting about it? Probably the latter.

How to be remembered

I’m sure I’ll still do the occasional list post (because they’re kinda fun), but I’m much more interested in providing one idea that sticks than seven forgettable ones.

Does this mean that you only have one point? Not at all. It means you have one objective, one goal — something you want to accomplish. Here are some possibilities:

  • To encourage
  • To convince
  • To notify
  • To inspire hope
  • To warn
  • To explain
  • To empower
  • To demonstrate

And so on. Once you’ve got your “one thing” (whether it be an idea, a story, a detail, or a tip), take that and back it up with a few rationale.

Why this makes sense

Be honest. Your memory isn’t that good. Neither is mine. Think about it:

  • Most people are busy. They don’t have time to remember something more complicated than one sticky idea.
  • Most people are distracted. Your message is competing with thousands of others. You can stand out by being remarkable.
  • Most people are forgetful. This is a byproduct of busyness and distraction. Strangers simply don’t have time to remember what you said, so keep it simple to stay at at the forefront of their minds.

I’m always forgetting appointments and meetings (heck, I lose my keys on a regular basis). I need to write things down to remember them. And it helps if they’re not too complicated.

Most people are like this. They need help understanding why what you’re saying is worth remembering. So that’s why you limit your talk or essay or blog post to one key idea worth remembering.

Finding your “one thing”

If you had one thing to say to the world, what would it be?

Mine would be something like this:

You are an artist; now go create.

You can tweet that, if you like, but I’d really like you to come up with your own.

It’s time for you to decide what one thing you want to say, and then say it. So let’s do that:

If this were your last day on earth, and you only had one song to sing, one tweet to share, one sentence to shout, what would it be? Share in the comments.

174 thoughts on “One Paradigm-shifting Idea That Will Change the Way You Communicate

  1. One sentence to shout? I’ve thought of this before; it’s a line from a Celine Dion song: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love and be loved in return.” 🙂

  2. Safety is the enemy of satisfaction. Risk your own comfort to guide others to their own beauty, and you will make a satisfying difference with your life.

    1. My father died three weeks ago. That is exactly what he said a few days before he died. He said, “I still want to contribute.” His will and desire were strong, but his body was not. As I said in a separate comment… Do it now. Don’t wait.

      1. Linda I am sorry you lost your father!
        My father died 44 years ago and it still hurts. But I have realized all the plans and dreams we made together  for me and that feels great. I know he is happy  for it when he looks down and sees me and my accomplishements.

        You can do it too… for your father as well as for yourself. What you said: Do it now!

        My best to you! God bless you, and may your father’s memory be eternal!

  3. I have never thot of other people’s lists as more than just choices for me to pick from.  Picking one to work thru at the time does make it more memorable for me, reinventing it for my own needs makes it better.  Usually these lists are rewritten several times and I might choose a different one each time.  I really like focusing on one tip and have a whole blog on it. 

    Jeff, write down that you forget on a regular basis, when you hit 50 you will sudden wonder if this is new behavior and do you have Alzheimer’s disease.  It just goes that way. 

  4. Capture the moments.  Write something about as many as you can, preserve them. You can’t relive it, so freeze them in time. (photographs)

  5. “We are all loved, and capable of being loving … so slow down.”

    That = me. Now granted, that is not necessarily what I say when it comes to my art, but if it’s the end of things – then it’s love, all the way.

    BTW – glad someone else feels the same way I do about the damn list posts. I get it – we’ve all done it, and it certainly has its spot at the table.

    It’s just the unhealthy obsession with its ability to spread that I don’t get. It might nab some comments, it might nab a few more mentions …

    But will it change anything?

  6. I have five great kids ages 18 – 23. My last words would be to them and they would be:

    love God with abandon.

  7. Can somebody cancel the milk please? I’ve only got one message before life on earth ends, and I can’t waste it contacting the milkman. It’s not that I don’t appreciate him dragging himself out of bed in the early hours, in all weathers to deliver dairy products to my door. It’s just that I believe one’s final communication with the world should be more inspirational than ‘no milk today, thanks.’

    I can’t decide whether it matters that it’s raining while I offer my final words to the planet. A shower doesn’t have to be a negative thing, we all need water to live. But if you have it, and can no longer survive anyway, then it’s superfluous. The rain has stopped now while I’ve been thinking, but the air is still grey. So, what is it that I really want to say to anyone who will listen, in lands near and far, across mighty oceans and all encompassing skies? It is simply, “I like this place, and I’m sorry to be leaving so early. If you’re reading this, you’re still alive. But don’t forget to cancel the milk, one day it will be your turn.”

  8. It’s all about small changes. Lists can be overwhelming. Join me on Make-a-change Mondays on my blog for just that…one tip at a time to a happier, healthier life:

  9. LOVE this post! I couldn’t agree one small bit more. And by the way, it lines up with the best advice I’ve been given by some of the greatest Christian authors and speakers out there today. They (and now you) have positioned this at the front of my mind.

    I rarely approach a post or a blank page with more than one point to make. And when I do, I almost end up hacking it all up with a machete in the end.

    Great reminder – thanks, Jeff! Great post!

  10. Bravo! I have had mine for awhile and I’ve known it had importance. I didn’t really recognize just how much until I read your post. Here is mine: “Live today like you want tomorrow to be. Live well.” That is the foundation of everything for me. Don’t wait to live the life you want. Live it now.

  11. I tweeted something a while ago that I didn’t think much of until I read this post. It was the first thing I thought of that could be my one thing. It was this: Using my gifts means trusting that God knew what He was doing when He gave them to me.

  12. “Without nature, we are nothing.” Not an original thought, but one that’s central to who I am. Thank you for a great post that made me take a bird’s eye view – sometimes I find it hard to see the wood for the trees!

  13. About time we got practical.
    And it makes so much sense.
    Do one thing today.
    Just one.
    That’s how we change the world.
    Thanks, Jeff!

Comments are closed.