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  • Writer's pictureShellene Drakes

Stick to your key messages like a three-year-old

My three-year-old loves candy. I think she’s addicted to it, so we try very hard to steer her away from candy and offer her healthy snacks like grapes, cheese or blueberries.

Sometimes it works and she will gorge on grapes and happily go about her way.

Other times, all she wants is candy. It doesn’t really matter what kind of candy, but she prefers lollipops. And no matter how desirable the grapes, blueberries, or—if I’m pushing it—the fruit gummies are, she wants her lollipop and that’s all she’ll tell me about.

She will scream it from the stairs. She will lie on the floor and throw a tantrum, all while saying, “I WANT A LOLLIPOP!”

This isn’t just a cute story about my threenager. My daughter has a message that she’s getting across and no matter what I do to sway her, she is laser-focused on getting that lollipop. She will tell me. She will tell her father. She will tell her older sister. She will tell her nana. She will tell her grandmother.

She sticks to that key message and we know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she wants that lollipop.

This is how you need to be with your key messages—of course, subtract the temper tantrum and screaming. Stick to those messages like my daughter is single-minded about her need for a lollipop.

In business, there are competing priorities and you can’t communicate all of them well. In a perfect world, you have a communications plan that directs what you’re doing and you rarely deviate from that. A lot of organizations don’t have a communications plan, so they are communicating inconsistent messages and wondering why nothing is working.

Communications are best done when everyone knows what the story or message is and speaks to that in a consistent manner.

What can you do? Create your key messages—don’t go overboard, keep them short and simple—and stick to them. Repeat them in every communication. Weave them into your stories. Ensure that they are integrated into everything you do.

You’ll see that once you become focused and have messages that are consistent across all your communications vehicles, people will start to remember your story.

And maybe you’ll get your lollipop.

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