Message Planning: How to Choose Your Focus

We spend a lot of our time with clients working on message development. We focus on delivery as well, but good delivery is almost irrelevant if you have not first worked out what the message will be. In other words:

What you say is really more important than how you say it.

When building a good message plan, the single hardest thing to do is to decide what to focus on… especially with a topic you know a lot about. We discuss with our clients all the time that the hardest thing they will have to do is to sift through all the things they have inside their head, and pick and choose what to include and what can be left out for another day. If you know a lot about a certain topic, then it is really hard to decide what needs to be discussed and what can be left for another time.

So, we always try to help our clients with that dilemma. We try to help them think through what is mission critical to discuss and what is not. And the following graphic helps:


Think about three masses of information: the sum total of “stuff” you know about a topic; the subset of “stuff” you need your audience to know; and the subset of “stuff” your audience will want to know. It is the intersections of these three circles where you should focus your preparation.

The intersection of stuff you know and stuff you need them to know, should be the focus of your content prep.

And the intersection of the stuff you know and the stuff your audience will want to know, should be the focus of your Q&A prep.

If you know a lot about a topic, you won’t be able to discuss all of it in a relatively short meeting or presentation. So, therefore, you’ll need a framework to help you determine what to put in and what to leave out. These initial critical decisions will largely determine whether you have a good meeting or a bad one.

Good luck!

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.