Facing down a tough crowd

Ever wonder what flight attendants are thinking as they go through the preflight instructions? Talk about a tough crowd. Passengers are listening to music on their earbuds, reading, working and a few have somehow even managed to fall asleep already.

Yet the flight attendants stick to their message, showing where the exits are and how to use the floatation device. Now that’s message discipline.

Sure, some passengers tune out the message, but we could all improve our communication and maybe even earn bonus message reward points by following the Flight Attendant Message Discipline Checklist:

Define your goals

Whether you’re running a meeting, making a presentation or sending a group email, first decide on specific goals of the communication. If you aren’t clear about what you hope to achieve, how can your message be clear to your target audience?

Set goals and develop a plan to achieve them every time you communicate, regardless of audience size or stature.

Develop an easy to understand message focused on whom you want to reach

It sounds simpler than it actually is. Decide what to communicate and why. Strip the main idea to its core.

Make it easy to understand the major takeaways and make it about your key target audiences — the simpler the message, the greater their retention of it.

Follow a systematic approach

Build an outline first so you have a visual map of what you need to convey. Follow the outline while writing an initial draft. Then edit the draft and strive to reduce the length or word count by at least 20 percent.

Why? Less is more. Since you are so close to the issue, you probably included unnecessary details that might actually reduce clarity.

Stick to the core message

Message discipline means staying true to the key points. No “winging it,” ad libbing or tweaking with your own little twist. Convey the message regardless of the situation. You should be able to tell your story after being awakened at 3 a.m. from a deep sleep.

Create a message you passionately believe in so you can tell that story clearly and on point anytime, anywhere.

Repeat your message in multiple mediums

We all process information differently and are inundated with messages in our personal and professional lives. Some people read emails, while others scan. Some take notes at meetings, others don’t. Some people see those posters on the wall, yet others ignore them.

That’s why you need to repeat the message multiple times in multiple messaging mediums. Stop thinking it’s bad to say the same thing again and again.

Instead, remember leaders you admire. They stuck to their core message, convincing you and others to buy in. They repeated their big idea again and again. Repetition increases retention.


Dave Mastovich is the President & CEO of MASSolutions Inc., a Pittsburgh-based marketing firm that creates bold messaging solutions to inspire, engage and sell.