Focus: The 30-second message
Having a 30-second message is a critical tool for advocacy. It can enable you to:
Red Bullet Focus your thinking
Red Bullet Focus your writing
Red Bullet Focus your speaking
Red Bullet Keep conversations on track
Red Bullet Prepare communications rapidly
Red Bullet Be more logical and concise
Red Bullet Be more effective and shorten interviews and meetings
Red Bullet Facilitate listening
Red Bullet Reinforce presentations
Red Bullet Use questions and answers to make your point
Red Bullet Heighten your confidence
Red Bullet Get better results

The 30-Second Rule
   In 1986, Milo Frank wrote How to Get Your Message Across in 30 Seconds or Less, a publication of Pocket Books. Frank's basic principle of the thirty-second message includes having a clear-cut objective, knowing your listener and what your listener wants, and having the right approach.
   Have an objective - Having a clear-cut objective involves having a specific idea of what you want to achieve. Ask yourself some questions to help clarify your objective. What do I want to get out of this conversation and why? What is the best possible approach to use?
   Know your listener Knowing your listener and knowing what your listener wants from you can help guide you in reaching your goal. Learn as much as you can about your listener and try to identify with them and their position.
   Use the right approach - Using the right approach involves thinking through what you are trying to say, what your strategy is,your core ideas, supporting information and how the information you are presenting relates to your listener.
   Grab their attention - Start your message with an opening statement that grabs the attention of the listener. The opening statement should focus on something unique about your subject - perhaps the most unusual, interesting or humorous part of what you have to say.
   Keep them interested - Make sure that your opening statement also relates to your objective. Be sure it relates to your listener as well and gives them a reason to keep listening. Opening statements sometimes involve visual aids. Sometimes they consist of anecdotes or personal experiences.
   Ask for what you want - A message without a specific request is a wasted opportunity. A request for a specific action within a specific time frame is more likely to get results.
   Paint a picture - The words you use should paint a picture that your listeners will remember. Be clear and direct. Personalize the message whenever possible. An emotional appeal can leave a lasting impression.    After consistent use, the 30-second message becomes second nature. It creates a whole new mind set and transforms the way you think and deal with others. You will soon find yourself instinctively prepared and using it all the time.


Making an impromptu speech

You may be called upon suddenly and unexpectedly to speak. Keep in mind these strategies for an effective presentation:
Red Bullet Try to be prepared for speaking opportunities that may arise. Think about your message, the beginning and ending statements. The middle will fill itself in.
Red Bullet Decide quickly what your message will be and keep it simple. Try to tailor your remarks to the group or organization that invited you.
Red Bullet Trust your instincts. Try not to fall back on memorized speeches; respond instead to the moment.
Red Bullet Start off strong and have some sort of plan in mind. If you only have a moment to prepare, jot down the main points and lead in to your speech by saying, "I'd like to make three points..."
Red Bullet Make simple transitions; for example, "My second point is..." Don't try to get too fancy on your feet.
Red Bullet Maintain eye contact. The people who have asked you to speak want to hear what you have to say.
Red Bullet Be conversational if it helps get your point across. Humor helps people remember you and what you've said.
Red Bullet Close with something like, "My last point is...," and then return the floor to the person who asked you to speak, i.e., "That's all, Mr. Smith," or "I hope that's what you were looking for, Ms. Jones."

Handling the Tough Questions
   Not everyone will agree with your position. Here are some transitional phrases you can use to get back on track after a tough question:
  • I am not familiar with that, but I can tell you about...
  • You're absolutely right, and one other point is...
  • I'm sure that's true, and another thing I'm sure of is....
  • Yes, that can wait until tomorrow, but something that cannot wait is...
  • I agree with you, and I'm sure you'll agree that...

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