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.
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.