Working with a student in class last week, helping him craft and refine his message. The student was an experienced speaker, having given his keynote many times, but had come for help because he “just wasn’t satisified” with what he had presented those many times. As we usually do, we started by breaking the message down to the most basic points and premises, and working from there. Breaking the message down proved to be most difficult for this particular student. No matter how basic we tried to get him to think, the existing message seemed to always come back up, often with extended stories about this audience or that listener.Finally, after several attempts at refining the basic three points he wished to get across, he erupted in frustration, “I know what I want to say, I know how I’m going to say it, but I can’t make it fit.” Having my own frustrations with his acceptance of the process, I interpreted the comment as, “I’ve got what I want to say already, and I can’t make it work in this pigeonhole of a process you’re trying to get me to work through.” In this case, a speaker who was unwilling to analyze his audience and refine the message was destined to deliver the same message, regardless of its effectiveness (and it was self-proclaimed to “not be all I want it to be“). This flies in the face of Rule #1, and is a huge hurdle to cross for the stubborn. Those who are unwilling to change will not change.
Give up the right to say what you want to say, and instead deliver the message the audience wants or needs.