Core Message – Cut to the Chase
One of the biggest challenges that I find my clients bring to the table is finding their core message. Also known as the throughline, or premise, your core message is that one thought that ties the ideas in your speech together. The more clear and concise your core message, the more memorable your message will be to your audience.
I recently attended the Heroic Public Speaking Live Event by Michael and Amy Port, where I participated in a fabulous session by Keynoter, Hospitality Industry Executive, and Improv Actor, Mike Ganino. Mike taught an innovative approach on how to develop your core message by adapting an improv game, Cut to the Chase (a.k.a Half Life) into a speaking exercise. Having studied improv for a number of years, I was interested in learning how to apply this improv to improve speaking.
The goal of the exercise is to cut away the extraneous wording that gets in the way of concise messaging. In the improv game, improv ensemble players act out a scene in 60 seconds. They then act out the same scene in 45 seconds, 30 seconds, and finally in 15 seconds. In each rendition of the scene, all but the key elements of the scene get stripped away until the actors get to what the core of the scene is all about.
Using the same principles from Cut to the Chase, this game can be used to find the core message of your speech. You’ll need to have a voice recorder (most smartphones have this feature), and it helps to have a partner to work with for this exercise:
- For round #1, deliver your core message in 2 minutes into your voice recorder while your partner is listening.
- For round #2, have your partner summarize what you just recorded, and have them record their summary in 1 minute.
- Listen as your partner summarizes, and deliver (and record) your summary of their summary in 30 seconds.
You are essentially whittling down your extraneous material and keeping the core elements of your message.
There is beauty in conciseness. We have limited attention spans – people who are long-winded are boring and we tend to stop listening after a period of time, especially when we can’t determine their main point. Our brains are becoming more and more attuned to changing stimuli, and the more concisely we can deliver our message, the more our audiences will stay engaged with us.
If you try this technique for clearing up the clutter in crafting your core message, let me know how it goes…