Start with an end in mind
‘Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?’
‘That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,’ said the Cat.
‘I don’t much care where…’ said Alice.
‘Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,’ said the Cat.
‘…so long as I get somewhere,’ Alice added as an explanation.
‘Oh, you’re sure to do that,’ said the Cat, ‘if you only walk long enough.’
Taken from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
One might wonder, reading the above, if Lewis Carroll was ever privy to the inner workings of a Communication Strategy meeting. When talking to clients about crafting compelling communications there is often a recurring problematic issue – a ‘start at the beginning’ attitude without any clarity as to the journey’s end. The problem is, if you don’t have a destination in mind, then you need to be careful of falling down a rabbit hole.
What is it that you want your audience to think or do differently after receiving your message? Do you want to change perceptions in the marketplace? Or demonstrate your expertise in a new sector? Do you want to build trust with your clients? Or engage your employees with your new strategy? Or is it all of the above? Likely more problematic! Focusing some energy on your communications end-goal can help you to decide the correct medium and messages for your intention by working backwards.
That said, a vision or plan is only realised if your audience connects with your narrative, has a clear understanding of what is being asked of them and is motivated to act. So, before writing your story, consider these three easy rules to guide your thinking:
Be truthful. For your audience to agree with your key messages, you need to make it convincing by showing some evidence. Gather those proof points and build the messaging around them.
Be human. Tapping into the emotional aspects of your story makes it more compelling. What do you want your audience to feel? Love, fear, or hate are compelling triggers to act.
Be critical. When constructing your story, look at it through the eyes of your audience. Does it motivate them to act or think in the way you want it to?
Taking a step back and focusing on these three areas with an end goal in sight will help guide your thinking. Knowing how – and why – you are moving towards a certain journey’s end will help ensure your communications become more compelling and structured. Then – only then – should you make them creatively intriguing.
Otherwise, as the Cat in Alice’s Wonderland says, you may just end up walking with no destination.