Keep Focus: 4 Ways To Stay On Message

Aimee Rivers Feb 1, 2022 2:01:39 PM

We rarely recall all the specific details of the stories we hear, but what does remain is an overall sense of what the story meant and how it made us feel. In fact, when there is too much detail that does not support the theme or move the plot forward, we start to lose interest.  

This is an all too common mistake made in business presentations. Brilliant people want to show their brilliance by sharing all their knowledge, all their proof, and all their ideas. Unfortunately, people can only retain so much information and when they are bombarded with too much of it, they tend to switch off. 

French author Antoine de Saint-Exupery said, “A designer knows he has achieved perfection not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” It is the same in business storytelling. By powerfully articulating messages and shedding any information that detracts or derails, you allow the core idea of your story to shine through. 

The 4 tactics below will help you keep focus to ensure your audience receives and remembers the key message of your presentation: 

1. Determine the Key Message

Encapsulating your main idea and reflecting your objective, your key message is what you want to be understood, remembered, and adopted. Once you determine what it is, actively use every part of your story to reinforce it. Likewise, if any part of your story does not support your key message, then edit it out. 

2. Keep it simple

Effective key messages are clear, concise and, most importantly, simple. Now, simple doesn’t mean dumbing it down. On the contrary, it means using few words to create maximum meaning. While they don’t need to be overly clever, they need to carry a compelling punch. 

3. Say it again

In order for your key message to be recognized and remembered, you need to weave it throughout your presentation. Repeat it several times to reinforce its importance and convince your audience that it is worth remembering. 

4. Be willing to kill you darlings

Editing is perhaps the most important, yet most difficult step, in crafting a story. In order to stay on point, you need to be willing to cut anything and everything that does not support delivering your key message. There may be examples that you want to share, a turn of a phrase that you love, or even a whole section that you feel passionate about, but if it doesn’t not advance your story forward, you need to be vicious and lose it.

With clear messaging and a willingness to cut to the chase, success is yours for the taking. In my next and final post for Sparkol’s Expert Blog Series, Let Your Voice Be Heard: Storytelling for Business, I’ll show you how to conclude with epic style that creates lasting impact. 

Be Remembered will be published on Tuesday, July 31st 2018. If you would like to receive this series straight to your email inbox, please subscribe here.

To read previous posts in this series, please visit:


Aimee Rivers is the founder of Plumage, a communications consultancy that helps creative companies tell their stories in an authentic way that thrills their clients and supports their business goals. Originally from Los Angeles, she is now based in the UK.