Getting the Word Out, Hollywood Style

So, every message should state the stakes early on: "This matters because it will mean you will lose sight of who you are." Or "This matters because it will distance you from God." Or, "This matters because we die without real love."

You bore me when you tell me something I already know. Every human being has the instinct to know. People want to learn some fact or hear some clever idea framed in a more memorable way. You bore me as soon as I figure out that you don't have anything to teach me. Every communication should have some product of the speaker's thought or research. The hearer will experience gratitude toward the speaker if they learn something from her.

You bore me when you repeat yourself. It is better to come across smarter than your hearer than insulting toward them. That is, it is better to speak in a more complex way than to sound like a third grade teacher. A good speaker makes the point. Then, if it isn't being absorbed, the point can be reframed using different language or a clearer analogy. If it still isn't being heard, drop it. There is nothing more boring than someone repeating the same phrases over and over like a dog gnawing on a piece of meat.

You bore me when you take too long to get to the point. A good message is clear, clever, and succinct. People who talk on and on in circles dilute the force of their point. When we are speaking of messaging, less is nearly always more. The main thing is to keep the main thing as the main thing. Some set-up is absolutely needed, but too much set-up and the point gets lost.

You bore me when you don't have a point. Style is important, but in the end, it is only there to decorate the substance. A good message needs both style and substance. As Lincoln said, "Better to remain silent and thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt." If you don't have something to say that is worth hearing, than don't speak. If you do speak, make sure you know what "the main thing" is. Don't lose it in your set-up and style or risk having your hearers turn up their lip the next time they see you coming.

You bore me when your message is delivered without any style. Consideration must always be given to the fun factor in every message. What is going to make hearing this message enjoyable for the audience? Entertainment is that which appeals to the intellect by satisfying the emotions. Style is a combination of several elements:

  1. The communicator's passion, confidence, and voice of authority
  2. The use of humor (be careful of pandering)
  3. The clever way the message is framed using memorable phrases, parallel formulations, or power ideals
  4. The appropriate use of memorable analogies and metaphors
  5. The use of an emotion generating anecdote (to incite either pity or outrage)

You bore me when you get too detailed. There is an appropriate setting and form for very detailed communications. But generally, in most speeches and homilies, the hearers do not want to know everything that you do. They want to be assured that you know more about the matters at hand than they do, but they're not interested in having to do all the work that defines your job. One good example can do the trick. Long lists of reasons or facts quickly spin a message off into irrelevance.

You bore me when you don't leave me anything to do. Every communication is a dialogue. The speaker has a teaching role. The hearer has a translating role. Let the audience members do their part of the puzzle. Let them make applications and put two and two together. It is always a good idea to make your hearers have to reach up a bit and think.

Also, a good communication gives the hearers marching orders. If you have successfully summoned up the listener's passions, you will frustrate them if they don't know what to do with what you have told them. Always give the viewers something to do in a message.

Don't waste my time. You waste my time when you tell me something that isn't true. Every good message should convey some piece of information that is new and useful to the hearers. People put untruths in messages for generally three reasons:

They haven't done their homework.
They are vain and think they can wax brilliant on everything.
They are trying to propagandize.

People hate being played for fools. The trust of the hearers is a fragile and vital commodity. They want to take what you tell them and communicate it to their friends and family. If you give them something to hand on that comes back to bite them, they will never trust you again.

Read Barbara Nicolosi's popular past contributions to Patheos:

"Save the Boomers, Save the World: Redeeming Culture"

"Turn, Turn, Turn"

"The Church of the Masses"

4/4/2011 4:00:00 AM
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