Five Questions To Ask Before Crafting Your Message
Staring at my computer, I felt enthusiasm give way to uncertainty. My carefully crafted message lacked power. What went wrong? In hindsight, I realized the broad topic lent itself to many different teaching points. Unfortunately, my words led the audience in circles and left them with no clear takeaways.
Maybe you’ve been there too. When our message begins to meander, it’s time to narrow our focus. Because it’s easy to lose our audience with too many details, we need to build our messages on only one main point.
So how do we choose from the many possibilities? Here are some reflective questions that can help us find, and then refine, the main idea of our message.
- Who needs to hear this message from me? Many topics can have universal appeal. But to find my one main point, I need to target my message for the people who need to hear it from me. As I draw on my own experiences with the topic, I search for ways I can relate to my target audience. How have I experienced the ways they struggle with this topic? What problems plague them? What questions keep them up at night?
- What do they need to know or understand? Empathizing with my audience’s needs leads me to remember what helped me. What lessons did I learn through my own struggles? What do I now know that I wish I had known then? How did a deeper understanding help me grow and move forward? What did I need to hear when I stood in their place?
- Why is this message important? Knowing the needs of my audience helps me find the purpose for my message. How will sharing my experience with the topic help my audience? What will they gain from learning from me and deepening their understanding? What will they lose if they don’t apply the message?
- How do I want my audience to respond to my message? Effective messages lead to change. What practical applications helped me in this process of transformation? How can I turn these into a call to action for my audience?
- If more than one point can be made, which one will help my audience the most? Hopefully the answers to the first four questions have already identified the one main point for my message. But if more than one point still exists, I ask myself: Which one will benefit the reader the most? Or which point is the next logical step for where my target audience now stands?
Once we have answered these questions, we are ready to state our main idea in one sentence. As we craft our message, every component (title, hook, details and conclusion) should point back to that one idea.
It may seem counterintuitive to zoom in on one main point, especially when we work with a broad topic with universal appeal. But when we take the time to focus our thoughts, we will craft messages that move people to lasting change.
Shirley Desmond Jackson
Which of these questions can you use to help you find your main idea? Share in the comments below so we can cheer you on!
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