Congratulations! Through practice, focus, and sheer brilliance, you have developed an invaluable superpower—and a reputation for making your business look and sound amazing on the page. You are The Wordsmith, the Slide Generator, the Master Messenger.
There will always be work for heroes who can convert words and images into compelling content. Your strengths are in demand, and your job security looks great.
Actually, there’s abundant opportunity for people who can craft a compelling business story. The world needs more like you, my friend. So, we need you to train up an army of effective messengers, extending your powers up, down, and sideways in your organization.
Are you up to the challenge? To get you started, here are four Super Steps to build your own Master Messaging League—and eight Power Phrases to help you shape productive conversations with future heroes.
Super Step 1: Give up your identity as “the” communicator.
Don’t let your colleagues fall prey to the notion that they don’t have the time, skill, or creativity to craft good messages. Tell them anyone can do it. Bolster their courage by sharing your own tricks of the trade.
First drafts don’t have to be perfect. Give yourself permission to make mistakes, so you get ideas out of your head where you can see and use them.
Good work can happen in short spurts. I like to set a timer for three minutes and see how many words I can get on the page.
Super Step 2: Stop revising other people’s work.
When someone shows you a message that’s broken, resist the urge to turn on “track changes” and fix it. Instead, have a conversation. Offer perspective on what it takes to connect with an audience. Explain why the message may not measure up, then offer specific ideas for change.
People don’t read. They skim. See this long, dense paragraph? Look for ways to divide it into short bits that are easy to scan. Try bullet points, headings, and maybe a simple diagram.
We want to help customers see themselves using our product. This list of features is basically a list of nouns about the product. To get the customer involved, what if you revise each point to lead with a verb, showing how the customer can use and get value from each feature?
Super Step 3: See the forest before you prune the trees.
Your proteges may be eager to master the finer points of communication—details like grammar, punctuation, and formatting. Encourage this enthusiasm for micro matters of style. But first, be sure they take a macro view. After all, why invest time and energy finessing a message that tells the wrong story?
After reading your draft, my overall impression is ________. Is that what you want people to take away?
Putting myself in your target audience’s shoes, this message makes me want/feel ______. Is that the goal?
Super Step 4: Challenge vocabulary.
Urge your understudies to consider each and every word, and choose words their target audience would use. Talk about not just what a word means, but how it might make someone feel. Our brains are constantly free-associating, and a connotation with a single word can color an entire message.
With so much technical jargon, this feels like it’s written for our engineers, not end users. Tell me what the user needs to know, and let’s translate this into a simpler version.
We want people to feel positive about this change, so we need to choose positive words. I see you’ve used “impact” in this phrase about the decision. “Impact” has some negative undertones. In a car accident, an engine can explode on impact. If your teeth are impacted, it hurts. Let’s look for a less loaded term, like “result” or “outcome”—or even “benefit.”
Take these Super Steps. Use these Power Phrases to inspire your conversations with colleagues. Before you know it, you’ll be power posing on a rooftop, surveying your legion of capable, confident communicators. Hands on your hips, cape fluttering behind you, you will marvel at the force of their work—and the
impact results of your influence.
Use your powers for good. I believe in you.