Do You Suffer from Message Masquerade?

If you don’t know what it is – you might have it.

You don’t have to look far these days to see how even the most important messages miss their mark. Teams are drowning in a sea of words they’re told are their “messages.” But they’re not. They’re facts pretending to be messages. While they may be critically important pieces of information, they don’t get to the point, the meaning of the information. We call this “Message Masquerade” and it’s reached epidemic proportions in American business.  

A message is what you might say at the end of all those facts, when you finally get to the point. Unfortunately, by that time, your audience may be asleep – or at least, tuned out. 

This has made me reflect on the reason we started 3D Communications nearly 20 years ago – to help people develop and deliver the spoken word.

As a former television reporter who interviewed the smartest scientists, businesspeople, and visionaries, I saw first-hand how they struggled to get to the point – not to mention how I struggled to cull meaningful quotes out of the avalanche of unrelated facts.

I wish I could say a lot has changed since I left TV news. But even in the age of tweets, posts, and hashtags – when short, pithy and to-the-point is exalted – companies still struggle to help their leaders be clear and interesting when delivering even basic business messages.

We get how hard it is. There is the weight of internal review, bureaucracy, and a lot of competing interests. But on the communications front, there is also something more basic: a misunderstanding of what a message really is.

Messaging is really its own language.

In our view, it’s not usually a fact – but is linked to the fact. In fact, the facts are needed to prove the message. The message needs to be illustrated, visualized by a story. But it’s not the story. 

In short, the message is the meaning. It’s the essence of what you want the audience to take away about you – your product – your company. It’s the soundbite.

And getting to the point where a message is masterfully crafted and skillfully said – well, that takes the right tools, the right approach, and the right coaching.

Bottom line: Making your message memorable requires a unique skill set.

It also requires knowing the purpose of the message – why you’re communicating in the first place. Sounds like a “duh!” It’s not. Especially in business.

Remember, anyone can write three bullets and call them messages.

So, the questions to ask yourself is, “What is it I’m really trying to SAY? And WHY am I trying to say it?”

And – oh yes – creating a message for the spoken word versus the written one is a whole different challenge. That’s our next blog. Stay tuned.

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Penny Daniels

For nearly two decades, Penny has coached executives in complex industries like healthcare, technology, and defense to communicate as leaders in urgent, high-pressure environments.

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