How Leaders deliver a clear message

How to Deliver a Clear Message During COVID-19 (Blog Version)

Too many of our leaders right now are not delivering a clear message. Instead, they are delivering messaging soup – throwing everything into their message without a filter, without prioritization, without planning, and it is leaving us confused and uncertain.

So, how can you deliver a clear message your people will remember?

Here is a simple framework you can use for any message you deliver – in a presentation to your team, a memo to all staff, or a sensitive one-on-one conversation. This framework is effective in any situation that requires clarity of content and easy receptivity from your audience.

It works like this:

Every clear message has three component parts. I categorize them thematically as follows: articulate, validate, activate.

Articulate: Articulate one main point in your message, just one.

Validate: Validate that main point with three proof points. Not more than three, probably not even less than three.

Activate: Activate that message with one call to action for your people to adopt and respond to.

Seems simple enough, right? Maybe too simple? Afraid you’re not going to do your message justice, given how important it is to your audience?

Here’s the thing, as a general rule the human mind is incapable of retaining multiple complex thoughts at any one time. So even though every detail of your lengthy and complex message may have some value, it is rendered useless when it is ignored or forgotten by your audience. 

The only message that has any value is the message that is remembered by your audience. So, take care to deliver a clear message that is easy to remember.

Here are a couple examples of how you might put this framework into practice.

First, a personal example – one that many of us are probably experiencing right now:

Articulate:  “Hi dad I just wanted to let you know that I’m safe.”

Validate: I’m home. I’m not sick. I’ve got plenty of food.”

Activate: “So tell mom not to worry.”

Here is an example for leaders in a business context. A CEO wants to send a clear message of encouragement to her team amid this crisis:

Articulate: “I have your back.”

Validate: “I believe in you. We have a plan. My door is always open if you need to talk.”

Activate: “So, drop me a line anytime.”

Articulate. Validate. Activate.

If you structure your messages in this way, your people will remember them. They will have the clarity and the confidence to believe in you; that you have a plan to help them move through this challenging time.

Try it out and see what a difference a little more clarity can make.

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