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7 Criteria to Resonate More Deeply with Your Target Audience

‘The effectiveness of communication is not defined by the communication but by the response.’  Milton Erickson, American psychiatrist and psychologist

With people suffering from information overload and a bombardment of competing messages streaming daily from multiple platforms and devices, gaining people’s attention has become a huge challenge for brands, big and small alike. And when you consider that people process information differently based on their personal beliefs, values, attitudes, sensory preferences and experiences, you can’t assume that, even if your message has connected, that it’s been interpreted as you intended.

Here are seven criteria to help your message resonate more deeply with the intended audience.

  1. Have a purpose

Begin with the end in mind by asking yourself, ‘what is the desired outcome of this message?’ Is it to inform? educate? persuade? engage? inspire? advocate? change behaviour? A message delivered with intention will help you communicate your desired outcome without ambiguity.

  1. Know your audience

Whether you’re doing a keynote presentation, writing a blog or pitching a media release, audience-focused content is essential for effective communication. Here’s some questions to help you get to know the audience better:

  • What are their values and beliefs about the topic?
  • What do they know about the topic?
  • What don’t they know about the topic?
  • What are their present attitudes towards the topic?
  • What is the level of impact of the topic on the audience?
  • What are their aspirations in relation to the topic?
  • What is their common language?
  1. Own a position

To cut through the distraction, communication needs a central point, relevant to the audience. What is the key message you want to make that is of value or major benefit to the audience?

Put your key message upfront, such as in the headline or first paragraph of an article, or in the first few sentences of a verbal presentation.

Three-word key messages are particularly powerful. For example, ‘reputation is critical!’.

  1. Keep it simple

A message is more likely to connect with the audience if it is simple. Avoid using unnecessary technical jargon, acronyms and multiple syllable words when there is a simple alternative that conveys the same meaning.

  1. Be congruent

For businesses / organisations – the message must align with corporate principles, policy and priorities, and follow up action must match the message.

For individuals – ensure congruence between verbal and non-verbal communication. This means that words, tone and body language need to be in sync to maintain credibility and impart the desired meaning.

  1. Be creative
  • Use the rule of three

The rule of three is based on the idea that three is the optimum number of points to form a pattern of information to aid memory retention. Some well-known examples are:

‘Friends, Romans, countrymen.’

‘The good, the bad and the ugly.’

‘Blood, sweat and tears.’

‘Enhance your reputation!’ 😉

  • Frame the message

Like a picture in a frame a message can be framed to give it context and more meaning. For instance:

Values frame – frame an idea by attaching it to a pre-existing idea, value, belief or world view.

Purpose frame – frame an idea in the context of a reason, for example, by drawing a connection between an action and a result or achieving a particular outcome.

‘What if’ frame – frame an idea in the context of the future, for example, ‘Imagine what could happen if we do this together?’.

  • Appeal to the senses

In everyday language we use words associated with different senses – vision, hearing, taste, smell and touch – because this is how we, as humans, process information.

Most often, people will prefer one sense over another, and this can influence our preferred language type. For example, visually-oriented people will use words associated with seeing (eg. I see what you mean), auditory-oriented people will use words associated with hearing (eg. I hear what you say) and kinaesthetically (touch)-oriented people will use words associated with touch or emotions (eg. I feel I understand you).

While you can’t know the sensory preferences of an entire audience, if you choose words that appeal to the different sensory modalities, you’ll have a greater chance of appealing to more people within the target audience.

  1. Be consistent

To ensure a united voice and avoid confusion about what you stand for as a brand, apply your message consistently across all people, platforms and touchpoints connected with your brand.

©Ros Weadman 2022 Ros Weadman empowers purpose-driven leaders and organisations to strategically-align their brand, increase their visibility and enhance their reputation so they can lead their industry and shape the future. Ros’s new book ‘Enhance Your Reputation’ is out now. Order your copy here.