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George Bradt
George Bradt
Offering a unique perspective on transformational leadership based on his combined senior line management, journalistic, and consulting experience. Founder of executive onboarding group PrimeGenesis, author of four books on onboarding and “The New Leader’s Playbook” weekly column on
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Three Steps to a Compelling Message

Mar. 6, 2012 9:35 am
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Compelling messages rarely appear out of thin air. Messages that make a real impact are the result of a lot of hard work, even though some business leaders and politicians seem to be able to create messages like magic. For the rest of us:

  1. Depict the platform for change
  2. Create a vision of a brighter future for your audience
  3. Lay out a call to action

No one is going to change their attitudes or behaviors until they a) believe they can not keep doing what they were doing (inertia and fear of the unknown are powerful forces), b) see themselves in a better future, and c) know how they can be part of the solution. All three pieces must be in place for them to change and you must connect with your audience before they will even hear what you say. In particular, proactively converge and evolve when onboarding into a new role.

Platform for Change

External platforms for change trump internal platforms. People are far more receptive to changing in response to changes in their customers, collaborators, competitors or conditions, than by being told they themselves are not up to snuff. They get defensive when they are told they are the problem, but become engaged when they are told that something else has created a problem or opportunity for them to tackle.

Vision of a Brighter Future

The second critical element is for the audience to envision themselves in a brighter future. Many trip on this by painting a picture that does not include the audience. The best leaders know that it is never about themselves, and always about what they can do for their followers.

Call to Action

The third piece is calling the audience to take doable action steps now. People generally want to believe they can influence the outcome. Giving them doable action steps allows them to do just that, while starting to build momentum for the change.

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