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Key Messages 101: The Power of One Message

Key messages are the lifeblood of communication

When I interned at the Oklahoma State Capitol during college, I licked envelopes; key messages were far from my mind.

Literally. People actually do that for a living. And I was one of them.

While I licked my 798th envelope my dad was about to teach me one of the biggest lessons of my career. And it would set me on an obsessive path to figure out how to deliver ONE message to an audience.

And I tell you this because ONE message is essential in any communication, whether it’s for an email, a speech, a product launch, a social media plan or a business model.

The ONE message answers why you do what you do and why it is important to your audience.

My dad was a head lobbyist for a large utility. He was trying to push a bill that unregulated his company so they could sell high-speed internet.

I took a break from my duty of licking envelopes to watch the vote on the House of Representatives floor. We sat upstairs and watched it pass.

This is where the lesson came into play and where my life would be changed forever. As we walked down the capitol stairs, an old reporter ran up to my dad.

He said: “I need some time with you. Does this mean your company will start charging higher fees for your other services?”

My dad’s reply: “This is a great step for our state and for the people of Oklahoma.”

The reporter tried again. “But are you going to charge higher fees for other services?”

My dad put his hand on the seasoned reporter’s shoulder and softly said… almost whispering in his ear… “All I can say is: this is a great day for Oklahoma and Oklahomans. We’re going to be technologically ahead of so many other states.”

Then my dad disappeared down the stairs.

I was amazed how he handled the reporter and I wanted to be able to do that…. to always bridge to my main message.

But there was more to it.

I realized my dad built an entire campaign around this ONE message and that he believed in his heart that this bill would make Oklahoma better. This was the main message in his key messages, the most important point he wanted to get across to his audience.

He propagated this one message in small towns and with legislators across the state. It became his mission to get Oklahomans better technology.

This is how focused he was. He told me that when a piece of paper came across his desk… He looked at it and determined if it could get him closer to his goal… which was passing the bill to make Oklahoma better.

If it didn’t get him closer, he would ignore it. If it did, he added it to his list.

The only way my dad got this laser focus was by having an insane level of clarity.

This level of clarity is critical.

More About Points on Paper

Points on Paper is a communication tool that transforms jumbled thoughts into concise points on paper. We created a structured and disciplined approach to thinking about and writing key messages. We sell lifetime access to our Message Map Maker. We also give you free tips to fill out our Little PoP, a free communication tool.

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