Research suggests that people recall 100% of emotion and only 6% of the content. Media and PR pundits constantly remind us that quality content is king in the context of communication. LinkedIn and other forms of social media are laden with content with an assumption, which I often make too, that all of the content will be read. Given the research, using discretion in choosing “the right 6%” seems imperative.
I think Interstate billboard ads are a perfect example. Imagine cruising along at 75 MPH and you come upon a restaurant billboard featuring a lengthy menu, a dozen beverage choices, seating options, lighting, clean restrooms, etc. and all crammed onto a single billboard. Zoom! Now imagine a billboard showing a hot juicy cheeseburger, steamy fries and an ice-cold beverage. Perhaps a set of golden arches added just for good measure. Nothing more, nothing less. The latter is an example of “the right 6%.’”
In the context of leadership, the same applies in choosing “the right 6%” in your communications. Consider your intentions and key audience takeaways prior to any communication. When preparing a communication for myself or others, I ask myself three questions: 1) what do I want the audience to remember 2) what emotional experience do I wish to create and 3) why will this information be meaningful to them? I also consider whether the medium is appropriate and, if not, is there a more effective means of communication.
“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget the way you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou
Tips and Practical Applications:
- Consider the questions above when crafting communications (i.e. oral or written). Can you streamline the communication using “the right 6%” as a filter when editing? Eliminate all of the nonessential content. Ensure your communication is truthful and free of any Little White Lies
- You only have one opportunity for a first impression. This is particularly true in your communications. Consider parking your communication (in a draft file) and returning later for a final review. Consider counting to 10 before you say what you are about to say. This is particularly true with issues that stir strong emotion.
- As a leader, your communication (as with all communication) is subject to interpretation. Consider asking a colleague to review your high-profile written communication in advance of release. Do the same with planned oral communication (e.g. speeches, presentations, employee events, etc.).
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