Here’s the TL:DR (too long; didn’t read) version of both this post and my most recent “Message in a Minute” video. They’re both all about the steps you need to take to make sure your idea gets heard:
The fool wanders, the wise man travels.
Here’s the Red Thread of the video:
- GOAL: How can you make sure your idea gets “out there”? How can you make sure it gets heard?
- PROBLEM: In our (understandable!) eagerness to get our awesome ideas out there, sometimes we spend more time on the “get heard” part of that question than on the process of how that actually happens. But there isn’t just one step to getting your idea out there, there are three:
- Articulation of your message
- Elevation (making it clearer and more differentiated)
- Then, amplification
- TRUTH: But, as the old saying goes, the fool wanders, the wise man travels. When you know what the path looks like between where you currently are with your message and where you want to be, you’re much more likely to get there.
- CHANGE: Plan your message development like you would a trip: making sure to take each step (and not miss any turns!)
- ACTION: Once you have your idea:
- GOAL REVISITED: Because it’s more likely to be clearer and more differentiated, your message no only gets “out there,” it’s more likely to get heard by the people you want (and who need!) to hear it most.
How to apply it
Tell me if this sounds familiar to you: someone asks you about your big idea, and so you go on to explain it. And go on. And go on. And go on. Somehow, that beautiful idea in your head gets… lost in all those words. (Not sure if this is an issue for you? Try taking this assessment to see where and how you could improve your idea.)
Big ideas are exciting. I get it. I live for big ideas. It’s part of why I love the work I do: I basically get to go back to school on amazing topics every day (Hawai’ian breadfruit! Cybersecurity risk management! Tracking sustainable fishing!). When you have an amazing big idea like that, it needs to get out into the world—and ideally, it needs to get out there as fast as possible to have the impact you want it to have.
Why is it so hard to sum up an idea succinctly? Often, it’s because we haven’t actually figured out where “out there” actually is. Or worse, sometimes we haven’t fully figured out what the message about our idea really is. We’ve jumped from “I have an idea!” to “People need to hear it!” without understanding what that requires, both for them and for you.
What it requires is a few more stops on your idea’s journey out into the world. There are always steps between where you start and where you end up—and when you have clarity on both, the “trip” is both faster and easier, on both you and your audience. Without that clarity, you end up wandering around trying to explain your idea more effectively… and often lose your audience in the process.
Since, as the old saying goes, “A fool wanders, a wise man travels“—and you ain’t no fool!—that’s why you want to make sure you make all those stops between idea and amplification.
It can help to remember that a message and your idea aren’t the same thing. Your message is how you talk about your idea to a particular audience to achieve a particular outcome. That’s why the first stop on the journey between your idea and your audience is the Articulation of your message—the words you use to describe your idea.
- Make sure you’ve defined your audience and the outcomes you want to achieve
- Then articulate what it is and why it’s important (if you want to use the Red Thread method for this, start here)
That step alone will make your message successful (since so many people don’t stop to find the words for their idea before they speak or write them). But to give your idea that extra edge, you’ll want to take your idea through the Elevation stage, as well.
- First, take your first attempt at explaining your idea and, piece by piece of your explanation, work to make it stronger and better (This post starts a series that walks you through how to strengthen each element, step-by-step).
- If you want, for each of those elements, work to make them more memorable and more repeatable (I like “proverbing” for this).
- Also, explore which of your elements you can give a name to.
Once you’ve added those stops on your message’s journey to the outside world, then (and only then!) is it ready for Amplification, where you do all the things you’d normally associate with marketing and promotion: earned media (like press coverage, etc.), “owned” media (like social posts, newsletter, even giving talks and presentations, etc.), and paid media (paid advertising in all of its forms).
When you make all of the stops on the journey of a message, it’s much more likely that people will not only hear your words but also see the (ahem) wisdom of them—and act on your idea as a result.There are always steps between where you start and where you end up—and when you have clarity on both, the trip is both faster and easier, on both you and your audience. Click To Tweet
Please note that many of the links are affiliate links, which means if you buy a thing I link to, I get a percentage of the cost, and then donate it to charity.
Your one-minute message for today; the fool wanders, the wise man travels.
I love this proverb because it gets at the heart of what often gets in our way when you’re trying to get your message out there. You know you have an idea. You want to make sure it gets amplified. And so we think that it’s, I have the idea, I can just amplify it, but this is where that proverb comes into play. Because if you haven’t thought about what’s the most effective way to talk about that idea to a particular audience, to achieve a particular outcome, well, then you can start wandering around a bit. But if you want to make sure you don’t wander, you travel and you travel in the most efficient and most powerful straight line, there’s actually two steps to take prior to amplification. I mean, obviously have your idea. That’s step zero.
Step number one, articulate that idea. Make sure that it’s in the pieces that you need for someone else to understand. Second, elevate it. Add the language and the words that make it uniquely yours, then and only then amplify.
That’s your one-minute message for today. You can find more of these in my book, Find Your Red Thread. Make your big ideas irresistible. And you can find information on that at redthreadbook.com.
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