Telling Your Story: Say less to be heard more
By Jerry Brown, APR
Public Relations Counsel
One of the most common mistakes people make when telling their story is saying too much.
We all want to be heard and understood.
But laying out every fact and argument you have at your disposal to convince the rest of us usually doesn’t work very well. There are many reasons for this. Here are three of them:
- Too many facts get in the way of your story. Humans have been sharing information through storytelling forever. Some scientists believe the narratives that make up stories are the fundamental instrument of thought. Stories help us arrange facts together in a way that give them meaning and help us remember them. Too many facts get in the way of your story and make it harder for the rest of us to remember what you’ve said. Don’t let too many facts get in the way of your story.
- Having too many messages means you have no message. Communicate too much and you often end up communicating nothing because the rest of us don’t know what you’re trying to tell us. In his book Selling the Invisible, branding expert Harry Beckwith calls it the Grocery List Problem. I call it being unfocused. Your audience won’t remember everything on a long list. And they may remember things you don’t care about while forgetting the one thing you really want them to remember. Focus on a single message.
- We live in a soundbite world. Take too long to deliver your message and your audience will check out or move on long before you tell them what you want them to know.
The bottom line? Have a clear message. Be able to say it in about 15 seconds or less. And find a way to say it as often as you can so the rest of us will hear it, understand it and remember it.
Jerry Brown, APR, is a public relations professional and former journalist. He helps clients develop the content to tell their stories. He helps them with strategies for getting their stories heard, understood and remembered. And he provides media training and presentation coaching for clients who need to tell their stories to reporters or in front of an audience. 303-594-8016 | jerry@JerryBrownPR.com