Why Does a Simple Key Message Matter?
In Public Speaking Tip 19: Master the Instant Speech (It’s Easy!), you learned about a quick and easy-to-use format that makes any opinion or argument sound more polished.
That format, the Instant Speech, begins and ends with a one-sentence statement called your key message.
Your key message is a big, important, overview statement that shares your views about the topic at hand.
Does that sound grandiose? Well, your key message is anything but. It should be simple, general, even obvious.
That’s because the job of a key message is:
- Not to persuade,
- Not to impress,
- But to give your listeners a “preview of coming attractions” that helps them tune into the argument, information, examples, or story that follows.
For Public Speaking Success, a Simple Key Message is Best
Let’s assume that you’re looking for a job. What is your key message? It’s something like,
I’m the best person for this job.
If you’re pitching a product, what’s your key message? Something like,
This product will make your life (or work, or health, etc.) better.
When people call or email me to inquire about one-on-one speaker coaching, they usually describe the problem they’d like to overcome. What’s my key message?
I can help you with that.
And if you’ve met the love of your life and want to permanently seal the deal, what’s your key message? Traditionally, it’s:
Will you marry me?
These key messages work perfectly because they prepare the listener for what comes next.
None of them would be improved by making them more complex, detailed, or sophisticated.
In fact, the only way to improve a clear and simple key message is to make it sound more like you, by adapting it to your own public speaking personality and style.
Confident Public Speakers Trust their Key Messages — and Themselves!
Many of my one-on-one public speaking clients are shocked to hear that they’re “allowed” to just state their message, without providing any of the evidence for their point of view up front.
But providing evidence is not the role of your key message. You’ve got the rest of your speech to do that; and when you think about it, focusing your audience’s attention is quite enough for one simple sentence to accomplish! So,
- Trust yourself to choose a simple, clear key message,
- Trust that message to do its job, and
- Trust your audience to realize that there’s lots more to come.
Thanks to your simple and clear key message, they’ll be eager to hear just what that “lots more” is!