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When communicating on behalf of an organization, product, or service, how do you ensure that the messages will be remembered? How can you be certain the audience will take away what you want them to know? The answer is to think in threes. Any more key messages and you run the risk of the entire communications effort being wasted.

According to scientists throughout history, including Aristotle who wrote about it in his book Rhetoric, the human brain remembers things easily in groups of three. More recent research by University of Missouri-Columbia psychologist Nelson Cowan confirms this theory.

So, if the audience is going to take three things away from your communications efforts, it’s best to structure it in the form of the three main themes they should remember.

Once the key messages are developed, there are many creative ways to communicate them. They form the framework for communications efforts, allowing media releases, events, and articles to be designed around them. They also act as a framework for spokespeople during interviews, naturally allowing them to keep the conversation flowing and on message.

Considerations for developing key messages:

1. Begin with your most important message

  • Think in terms of a triangle. The most important and targeted key message will be at the top and the additional key messages will build upon it and add to it.

2. Keep key messages concise

  • Remember that key messages are a guide to keep communications on track. Rather than paragraphs, they should be tightly packaged points upon which you can build talking points and develop examples.

3. Provide supporting facts and proof points for key messages

  • Include facts and figures from industry analysts or your own research that reinforce and support the key messages. This helps to bring the key messages to life for the audience, giving the messages a context the audience can relate to.

Thanks for visiting the CaptainComm blog. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading our key messaging tips. If you have any questions or would like more details, feel free to leave us a comment.