Previously, we summarized the three important aspects of communication as Who says what to whom? Today we are going to concentrate on the second aspect: “what.”
What you say?
There are several ways to improve the effectiveness of your what you say. Here they are:
- Emotional messages are more powerful than logical ones. Especially messages that include fear are more effective in convincing people to take preventive action. There are some limitations though. For instance, if you are communicating to high self-esteem people then you can increase the dosage of fear. They can take it. However, if you frighten a low-self esteem group too much, they won’t respond to your call to action. Therefore, you need to lower the level of fear when dealing with low self-esteem people. Also, emotional messages could change attitudes but they won’t be enough to change actual behaviours. For that to happen, you have to support your emotional message with logical information. For example, you can frighten people that H1N1 is deadly and they should take some action. That is good for changing attitudes. But you also have explain necessary actions (i.e. where to go, who to talk to etc.) so that they can react accordingly.
- A single personal experience is always stronger than consensual statistical evidence. Let’s say you decided to buy an iHome for your iPod. You go to amazon.com and read hundreds of reviews. Finally you decide to buy the most favourable model. But, before you buy it your close friend tells you that he had that model and it is garbage. Chances are you won’t buy that iHome. Always refer to the experience of someone that you know.
- Always prefer two-sided arguments. Unless you are talking to your fan base, you need to present valid arguments for both sides especially if consensus is on the opposite direction. It goes without saying that you should have stronger arguments for your case.
- The order of presentation is important. If the decision has to be made right away (e.g. jury duty) present your argument first. You will benefit from primacy effect. If the decision will be made in several days (e.g. elections), then present your argument last. In this case you will benefit from recency effect.
- The size of the discrepancy is another important factor. Usually, when a communicator has high credibility, the greater the discrepancy between opinions, the more the audience will be persuaded (provided that the communicated idea does not cross your red lines.)
Our next post will be on the characteristics of your audience.
Today’s actionable tip: Emotional messages are more powerful. However, make sure that your call to action is well supported with logical information. Your message gets stronger when you balance the two.