5 Ways to improve any message

March 12th, 2010 · by Tom Stuart · Growth & Development, Leadership

What separates a memorable message from a forgettable one? Answering that question has been a weekly quest I’ve been on for over 35 years.  Like someone who has found and lost the Holy Grail more times than I can count, let me at least describe what I’ve discovered it looks like.

Every effective public speaker, teacher and author, either knowingly or unknowingly, employ five simple ingredients to successfully connect with their listeners.  These five components that can improve any message are summed up in this five word sentence.  Hook them, show what sticks.

This mnemonic is not an original with me.  I first heard it many years ago and its been a guide for you ever since.  Now if you’re  just a listener, knowing this can even improve your listening.

Since Jesus is the most effective communicator who has every lived I thought it would be insightful to describe them from his perspective.

1. Hook – Get the listener’s attention. Jesus knew that to convey truth he first had to gather a crowd.  He said and did startling and powerful things. He promised life change and delivered it.  The things he said either stimulated curiosity or criticism. But people hung on every word and ran from one place to the next just to see and hear him. His listeners were hooked and they wanted more.

2. Them – Understand and seek to connect with them – your listeners.  Jesus focus was on those who followed him.  He knew their needs and struggles, could wholly identify with them, cared deeply about them and spared no cost to deliver what was best for them. And they knew it.  His love and miracle working compassion affirmed it.

3. Show – Use illustrations the show what you mean.  Jesus was a master of the illustration.  His use of stories, parables, analogies drew richly from the context of the lives of his listeners.  His picturesque language enabled his listeners to more deeply ponder and assimilate his truth.  He literally was able to show them what he was talking about.

4. What – Make sure what you have to say is important and can add value to your listener’s lives.  Jesus came to bear witness to the truth.  There is no greater content than Truth, because that is what sets people free. His listeners were blown away by his wisdom and confessed they had never heard such teaching with authority.

5. Sticks – Finally make it your aim that something of what you say will stick with your listeners when they go home. Jesus always had in mind the take away of his message. He gave practical follow-up steps that anyone could apply.  And so he challenged his listeners to steps of obedience of faith, that if applied would change their lives.

What do you think?  Can you share ways that “Hook Them Show What Sticks” can improve your speaking and/or listening?

No Responses to “5 Ways to improve any message”

  1. Wow…this was timely. I have been asked to be the keynote speaker of the Down Syndrome Association of MN Regional Event coming up in April. A 45 minute presentation. What a honor it will be…..your tips are timely and remind me how to make it interesting and engaging for the listeners. I especially love the part about putting the focus on them! Thank you.

  2. That’s great Diane. Sounds like you are a frequent speaker. Any tips you have are always welcome.

  3. I recently had training from a trainer who used to be a Film Director, then trained undercover agents and now trains people how to be an effective public speakers. He said there are 4 things you should do to be effective 1. Use voice tonation throughout your message (raising your voice and lowering your voice for more effectiveness to make points). 2. Don’t stand in one spot, but move toward your audience and move around throughout (but not overly so – too much movement can be distracting). 3. Be expressive – by using gestures – using your hands, etc. 4. I forgot the 4th thing…but I have my notes on it at my office. You can always check out their website at http://www.sagepresence.com They have some videos you can watch too on presentation skills. I am always reminded to just speak from your heart, which you do all the time, that is the most important of all things.

  4. Dave Rasmussen March 12, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    Tom,
    Great insight. I’m going to print this off for help if and when
    I go out to speak again. It’s a good outline also I think
    to use when giving a testimony.

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