Using structure to create unforgettable messages
I’m sure if you asked a room of a hundred people, ‘who invented the telescope’, you’d get the same answer: Galileo Galilee. Check as many GCSE physics textbooks as you like, and Galileo will be there; his name is synonymous with the telescope. However, would it surprise you to tell you that Galileo was not the original inventor of the instrument?
In 1608, Dutchman Hans Lippershey completed the first ever telescope and attempted to receive a patent for it, but was denied for no discernible reason. Galileo caught wind of Lippershey’s invention, and quickly devised his own telescope, presented it to the world, and received a patent. He etched his name into history, with the telescope becoming his lasting contribution to science.
So why has Galileo gone on to have 4 moons named after him in recognition of his achievements, and all lowly Lippershey has to his name is a crater on the Earth’s moon? You could surmise that it’s because Galileo was an effective communicator, whereas Lippershey was not.
“Even the best ideas must be presented in a way the listener will understand and remember”.
This is a statement delivered in an article by contributing writing to entrepreneur.com, Thai Nguyen, and he makes a great point! Lippershey’s idea may have been great, but if he couldn’t communicate that to his audience, it may have lead to his failure to receive a patent and thus the recognition he arguably deserves.
Thai Nguyen’s article goes on to address 3 ways effective communicators structure unforgettable messages. The article suggests that the secret to effective communication is structure. Research has shown that people will retain structured information up to 40-percent more accurately than information that is presented without structure. And with that in mind, Nguyen divulges into the first of his 3 methods for effective communication:
The 3-I’s: Issue, illustration, invitation.
This method requires you to first outline an issue or explain your idea in simple terms. Then use an illustration to further explain and give context to your main point. The illustration can be anything you deem necessary, but the more emotive the better. If it’s funny, iconic, or inspirational, it’s more likely to be remembered by your audience, and your main point digested as a result.
Finally, give an invitation to your audience to involve themselves with your main point. This could just be asking them their opinion, but involving them in the process is will increase the likelihood of them remembering and engaging with your communication.
2. The 3-Ws: What? So what? Now what?
The second method requires you to define your key idea or argument concisely. You should be able to boil it down to one sentence, or two at most.
Next, the “So what?” forces you to answer the question of why the issue should matter to your audience. Why is it important that they should listen to you? Explain how your listeners will be affected if they don’t respond to the issue. Make use of research or evidence.
Finally, the “Now what?” is where you give your listener a concrete way to move forward to the next immediate step. Give instructions, speak didactically.
3. PSB: Problem, solution, benefit.
The final method asks you, to begin with presenting the problem to your audience, highlighting the frustration.
Next, present your solution to the problem. Depending on your audience, such as if you were pitching to an investor, your solution may need to be very detailed. Confidence is key!
The final step highlights the benefit of your solution, which hopefully should already be evident to your audience by this point!
Each method certainly has their merits, and applying the right one for the right circumstance may help you to communicate in an unforgettable way. Galileo presented the telescope in an effective way, resulting in a truly unforgettable contribution to science. Poor Lippershey might need to give Nguyen’s article a read – You can read it here
Author: Dom Belcher