How to make your key messages sexy?

September 13, 2012

Every time I read my twitter feed I always seem to click on the links Mia Freedman suggests…even if it’s not something I’m really interested in!  Mia has mastered the art of a compelling attention grabbing head line that even a time poor information overloaded twitter user is loathe to go past.  Imagine if we applied that same practice to the key messages in our presentations.  The way we presented our key message made our audience immediately click with us, and what we are trying to say.

Most messages in presentations are pretty stock standard, and come in only one flavour bland.  So how can you sex up your key messages?

When we say sexy we mean packaging your key messages so they are a memorable repeatable sound bite.  This is not about ‘dumbing down’ your messages or using corporate jargon this is about ‘smarting down’ your messages in a way people will connect and remember.  So here are our top tips, and they all involve leaving your clothes on!

Tip 1: ‘Smart down’ your message
Find the right words to say what you have said – but words that are memorable and grab people’s attention.

Look to newspaper headlines for inspiration.  Who can past the New York Post’s most famous headline ‘Headless body in topless bar’.  A less gruesome  and more recent example is from one of workshop participants, Tim.  Tim’s key message was ‘Results from last year’ which were spectacular.  Quite a stock standard message. He made it sexy by calling this first message ‘Why I love you?”. So in his presentation he said ‘I want to start by telling you why I love you’.  KABOOM! We are sure he would have everyone’s attention.  Compare that with the more conventional start of ‘I am here to share last year’s results’.  YAWN boring.

Another participant Michael was also presenting Sales Targets for 2013.  He repackaged it to say ‘Living your dream in 2013’ and  said ‘I’m here to show you how you can live your dream in 2013’, needless to say he had everyone hanging on to his every word.

Tip 2: Spin it:
What if you have a boring message that has already been said?  Your challenge in sexing it up is, to think about a different spin you can put on it?

We are going to use the title of books to help you.

Stephen Covey wrote the first best seller on productivity – how to increase your productivity.  But he didn’t call it that. He called it ‘The 7 habits of highly effective people’.  Imagine starting a presentation by saying ‘I’m here to share the 7 habits of highly effective people’.

Just when we thought the productivity thing was done and dusted along came David Allan with his ‘Get Things Done’.  That title is his one and only key message and again another bestseller.  Surely there was no other way to package this key message.  But viola we now have another bestseller with Timothy Ferris’s ‘The 4 hour week’, again the key message is in the title.  Imagine the lure the promise of these titles.  They are sexy!  That’s what we want from you key messages with chutzpah, with flair, that can excite and enthrall your audience.

Tip 3: Short is sexy
And finally your sexy message must be short – 15 seconds to 30 seconds maximum.  Before we discovered the lure of the sexy key message we used to say ‘Storytelling can help you increase your sales by more effectively engaging with your customers’. Now our new, sexy short version.  ‘Facts tell, Story sells’.

Remember that saying ‘it’s not what you say, it s how you say it.  THAT”S CRAP… We live in a content rich world, so the only way you can help your audience find you in a tsumani of information is by focusing on ‘what you say’.  Yes of course how you say it matters but it is what you say that counts.  So for your next presentation remember to sex up your key messages, ‘Smart down’ your message by finding the right words, put a new spin on it and keep it short.  Who knows your next key message might replace that New York Times headline as the most memorable ever?



Dry facts and data fade from memory over time, but an engaging story is difficult to forget. In Hooked, communication and business storytelling experts Gabrielle Dolan and Yamini Naidu use real-world examples and proven, effective techniques to teach the skill of great business storytelling. They explain what good storytelling is, why business leaders need to learn it, how to create effective stories, and how to practice for perfection.

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